By Fr. Erik Esparza
“The Christian must be a luminous person who carries the light, a light that comes from one that his not his own, but a gift of God, a gift of Jesus. We carry this light forward!” –Pope Francis
In the Gospel of Matthew, immediately after Jesus teaches his disciples the Beatitudes, He proclaims each of them the light of the world! Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house (Matthew 5:14-15).”
This statement by Jesus challenges His disciples to go forth and to influence the world around them. In our world today this can be very challenging because often the world tells us something counter to the Gospel message. The world discourages belief in God and if one chooses to believe, this is to be done anonymously and quietly. As Christians we have accepted this standard and so often prefer to remain hidden or disguised. We allow a life of faith to be limited to Sunday worship. We often fail to carry our faith life into every facet of our life and at all times. We begin slowly to incorporate the beliefs of the world while denying or disagreeing with the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church. Jesus never proclaimed faith to be hidden, limited or discouraged.
This is why Jesus affirms that a city set on a mountain cannot be hidden nor a lamp be placed under a basket. Jesus is saying we are significant and who we are as disciples is to be celebrated and shared. Through this statement Jesus affirms we have purpose and meaning for our lives. He doesn’t let any of us off the hook, rather he reminds us we are meant to shine! We are called to make a difference in the world!
We are able to shine before others with the light of Christ given to us at our baptism. Like Jesus, Himself, His light needs to be shared. It is a light that must not be hidden nor disguised. As followers of Christ we are sent to bring the light of Christ to a world that often chooses darkness. This is no easy task, but Jesus asks us to shine in His name. In so doing we allow others to see our good deeds, not out of attention or reward, but so that they too may glorify the heavenly Father.
Live with purpose! Make a difference! Allow others to see your good deeds so that they too may glorify the heavenly Father!
Now go forth and be a joyful witness!
Fr. Erik Esparza is Associate Director of the Office of Priest Personnel in the Diocese of San Bernardino.