Luke 8:16-18 You Never Know
Jesus said to the crowd: “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.”
Early this morning I received a phone call from the emergency line. It was someone asking what time morning Mass was. I couldn’t believe it! This person was calling me on the emergency line for that? “What did you say?” I said. But before they could repeat the question, I looked at the time on my cell phone. Now I really couldn’t believe it! It was 6:20 am and I was still in bed!
On any given day I would have been pretty upset about that phone call. But this morning, I was extremely grateful. Why? Because it woke me up. I arrived just in the nick of time to celebrate the 6:45 morning Mass. I couldn’t believe it.
You never know the good you can do. Take for example the person who called me this morning. I am convinced they have a lot of faith in priests. After all, would you call a priest early in the morning on the emergency line just to find out what time Mass is? I wouldn’t! I know what kind of person would do something like that: a humble – very humble – person; a person with a tremendously thick skin and rich faith.
We should all be like that, for you never know just how your faith and goodwill could “save” someone today.
At the conclusion of today’s Mass, someone came up to me and said, “Father, thank you for being here. Your homily was exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Thank you!” Little did they know how close I was to not being there at all.
You never know the good you can do. That got me thinking again. We have been conditioned, one could even say “brainwashed” into thinking that faith is something that should be reserved and privately observed. What nonsense!
This morning’s call was a wake-up call for me in more than one way. It reminded me that I am here to feed my sheep, and not to worry so much about feeding anger in the wolves that surround me.
Today’s first reading is from the Old Testament. It is a classic example of the Old Law: “Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim…Plot no evil against your neighbor, against one who lives in peace with you…Quarrel not with a man without cause…with one who has done you no harm.”
The Old Law was all about justice. “Refuse no one the good…HE HAS A CLAIM TO.” “Plot no evil against your neighbor…THE ONE WHO LIVES IN PEACE WITH YOU.” Do you see something wrong with this? Do you see something wrong with being nice to those who are nice to you, and good to those who are good to you? If you do, then you know the difference between the Old Law of justice and the New Law of love.
Christians are not lambs that live on the safe side. Christians are lambs that cross to the other side. They live among the wolves; among their distant relatives. And this can be very annoying, irritating and considered arrogant by those who live on the other side! It’s true! But if one lamb can save one wolf before being devoured by an entire pack of wolves, then it was well worth it. We know this by our history. Good always triumphs over evil. One ray of light is all it takes to break the darkness of the night.
Far too often we are reluctant to share our faith because we are concerned about “offending” others. And we feel this way even while the “others” are offending us and gaining ground.
But the truth of the matter is made clear in Christ’s words and actions. We are no longer called to have the faith of our Jewish brothers and sisters. We are no longer restricted by the Law which is found in the Old Testament or in today’s first reading. We have been set free by the Lord to cross to the other side and visit with sinners, converse with them and save them.
The Law that now governs us is found written in the heart of Jesus Christ. It is the Law of Love and Light. The Lord commanded his followers to shine everywhere. He invited them to be a BIG TARGET; to let people know where you are, where you stand, what you believe in! And even though the vast majority of people will do whatever it takes to take you out - to blow you out - so be it. It is still important that you keep the light burning where it can be seen by all and for as long as you can.
And don’t forget: like the empty tomb, even a blown out candle can be an eloquent witness to the lasting power of Jesus Christ.