24 September 2012

Don't just stand there. . .Shine!

25th Week OT (M)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

Think for a moment about your daily witness to Christ and his Good News of God's mercy to sinners. If asked—and we will be asked—what you have done in your life to bring others to Christ, what can you say? Did you speak out for justice when injustice sought to rule? Did you speak out for truth when lies threatened to poison us all? Did you defend freedom when the rulers of this world lusted for more power? Mostly importantly, did you stand with Christ and shine his light against the Enemy and his consuming darkness? Jesus says, “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel. . .rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.” Taking the principal elements of this parable, let's ask ourselves: Am I the light, the vessel, or the lampstand? In other words, daily, hourly, do I shine out Christ's light for the benefit of others? Or do I work hard to conceal Christ's light so that only I may use it? Or do I just stand there doing much of nothing, supporting whatever happens to be placed on me? When asked—and you will be asked—what you have done in your life to bring others to Christ? Remember: “there is. . .nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.” 

So, are you the light, the vessel, or the lampstand? Do you let Christ's light shine; do you hide it; or do you just stand there? If you are like most faithful Catholics, you probably do a little of each. None of us is a saint yet and none of us is truly lost. We shine a little. We hide a little. And we're pretty good at just standing in the corner doing much of nothing. What does Christ have to say about this? “To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” We've all heard the gospel and accepted the truth of God's mercy to sinners. Knowing this truth is both a burden and gift. We're burdened with an obligation to give witness to our freedom in Christ. That we are freed from sin and growing in love is not a secret we can keep hidden. But we are also gifted by this burden b/c God's love for us all is perfected in its sharing. We have what we need and more will be given. For those who have not yet received what they need—Christ's light—all that they think they have will be taken away. We are charged with making sure that Christ's light shines as brightly and as constantly as it can. Every living soul deserves to see his light, every living soul deserves to hear the good news of God's mercy. 

We read in Proverbs, “Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim when it is in your power to do it for him.” Christ died once for all. Sin and death are defeated. Defeated for the benefit of all. Every man, woman, and child on the planet has a claim on the universal good of Christ's sacrifice. And it is within our power to see that this good is not only made known but freely offered. Therefore, we cannot refuse the good gift of God's mercy to anyone. What you have done in your life to shine out Christ's light? It is not enough to receive God's gift of mercy and then hide it away, hoard it for yourself. Nor is it enough to just stand there like a sturdy table and wait to be put to use. To switch parables: you don't put on the yoke of Christ b/c you like the look, or b/c you have nothing better to do. When you put on his yoke, you mean to work and work hard. His yoke is easy b/c Christ always works with us, but work is work, and it must be done for the salvation of the world. Set your heart and mind to being the light of Christ. Don't hide. Don't just stand there. Shine! And more will be given to you. 

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

Click on St. Martin and donate to the Dominicans!


  1. When you right something, like this, that hits me where I continually struggle, it is difficult for me to comment other than to say this homily was very effective for me, challenged me where I needed to be challenged.

    These types of homilies always hit me hard the first time through, wherein I recognize myself in the answers to your questions and see how far I am from the mark - I read them again, so I can catch the encouragement you include with the challenge. For me, it would be hard to hear this just once, so I am glad they are in writing. Thank you!

    1. I really struggled in this one over whether or not to use "you" throughout. There were moments preaching it when I felt like I was accusing the congregation of neglecting their Christian duties. But using "we" and "us" all the time dilutes the impact of the questions. So, I decided to go with "you" and blame any negative blowback on it being Monday!

    2. In general, I like the use of "you" - it did not read as accusatory (it might have sounded that way, though). I am very hard on myself already...this type of homily forces me to look even harder at myself and my actions/inactions, which is why I often tear-up when you write in this manner, since I fail more often than I succeed, and it saddens me that I do not do (cannot do?) better for my Father in Heaven. This is just where I am on my spiritual journey, fully realizing my sordid past, wanting to do better, but so often not seeming to be able to. (Didn't St Paul say something like that somewhere in his letter to the Romans?)

      And I agree, the use of "we" or "us" does dilute the impact - I would have called you on that had you written it that way :-)! Thanks, take care.