Being the Light of the World

Early last week, I was not being “the light of the world” (Mt 5:14). I was tired and crabby. I was homesick. I was annoyed by (almost) literally every little thing that the people around me did, from tapping feet to a stray bit of garbage that just missed the trash. And every day seemed to be giving me reasons to declare it to be “just not my day.” As all of this negativity piled up I blamed it on my homesickness and contented myself with being that annoyed until I got home on Friday evening.

Wednesday night threw me a much needed chance to turn it all around.

I have a pretty regular schedule for when I go to confession. However, I had let that slip recently – and of course I had an excuse for myself regarding it. I knew that it was time to actually plan and go to confession before our community Mass. So I went.

After my reversion, which I talked about in my last post, I had a lot of emotional confessions. I was consistently a crier. I continued to find myself absolutely floored by the power and love of the sacrament. I was truly amazed. I slowly started to transfer from confessions out of fear to confessions out of love. And as I look back at this slow progression, I can only pause in wonder at the love and grace involved in every moment and marvel at what may come. Crying during confession is a beautiful grace received through tears of remorse and more importantly through tears of love.

This week I received a new kind of confessional grace. For the first time that I can remember, I walked out with a huge, genuine smile. My soul was as clean in that moment as it was at the moment of my baptism; my friends and I even like to refer to our souls as “baby souls” in the first few hours after receiving absolution. As I walked out of the confessional and back to my seat I was overwhelmed by the joy resulting from God’s perfect love for me and my imperfect love for him.

The rest of my week was so indescribably different. Don’t get me wrong, there were still plenty of instances that could have resulted in the declaration of “it’s just not my day” ringing through my mind and off my lips. The difference was that I had a renewed realization of the temporary nature of those stressors.

I was able to be as Jesus tells us we are to be in today’s Gospel reading, “you are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. . . In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Mt. 14, 16). We cannot be the light of the world when our own hearts are dark.

I’m sure I will not be the first or last to remind you how dark our times are. Many people see Christians by stereotypes that should never be synonymous with our beliefs. But we do not have to prove them right. We should be fighting sin and temptation every day so that we may be cities built on hillsides. We should be praying to be given the grace to lead a lifestyle that not only lets others know our God by the way we live, but also shows them that we can genuinely love others regardless of our differences and disagreements. The light we are to shine is not our own so we cannot let it shine on our own. We must be constantly going to the source, that we may be a reflection of Him and His love. In Christ, the impossible is made possible.

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