On a lampstand or under a basket? Catholics need to let light shine
"No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light." (Lk 11:33)
This excerpt from the Gospel that was read at Mass recently provides a challenging point of reflection for each of us. What do we do with the blessings – talents, abilities, resources – that God has given to every human being?
First, do we know and appreciate what talents, abilities and resources God has given us? If not, reflecting on this question and identifying and appreciating God’s gifts will help us deepen our relationship with God and live more content lives.
Second, do we use God’s gifts to bring his truth, his mercy and his love to those around us?
Our modern culture and its confusion about the nature of the human person, marriage, love and sexuality presents many serious challenges to the faithful Catholic. Proclaiming and defending Catholic teaching on contentious subjects such as abortion, contraception, in vitro fertilization, same-sex "marriage" and immoral sex education, among others, can be intimidating. This is true whether we’re speaking privately to family, friends and co-workers or in more public settings.
It is easy to understand the temptation to go about our lives and avoid addressing and opposing unjust actions because they are unpleasant and contentious. It takes courage to step out of our comfort zone and stand up for what is right and just and true, especially when it could come at some cost to our relationships, reputation or our livelihood.
But living and proclaiming the truth, as embodied in our savior Jesus Christ, without counting the cost, is precisely what Christians are called to do and is what Christians will account for before God. In "The Better Part," Father John Bartunek provides a reflection on the Gospel quoted at the beginning of this column:
"When it comes to our Christian beliefs, fear of mockery, disdain and rejection often make us hesitate when we should speak forth. The possibility of persecution throws us into a panic, just as the storm on the lake threw the Apostles into a panic.
"The solution for our cowardice is the same as the solution Christ gave the Apostles – faith: ‘Where is your faith?’ God has given us more than enough reasons to believe in him and trust in him – now we just have to exercise the little faith we already have, and it will soon grow into a robust, joyful, and fruitful virtue: ‘Anyone who has will be given more.’
"Otherwise, hiding the lamp under a bowl may protect the lamp, but it will snuff out the flame; our timorous efforts to avoid ridicule and persecution will have deprived even our own lives of Christ’s saving light; ‘From anyone who has not, even what he thinks he has will be taken away.’"
The Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) works to assist Catholics in speaking out with confidence and love about many of the contentious issues/practices of our time. Through the Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska (CANN) we provide members with information and tools for easily making your voice heard to policymakers at the state and national level.
Signing up to be a part of CANN is simple and free. Just go online to the NCC website necatholic.org. We won’t overwhelm members with too many emails, and we don’t share your email with any other group.
In the last session of the Nebraska Legislature, the nearly 3,400 members of CANN sent thousands of emails to state senators and were very effective in advancing or blocking legislation. If you are not yet a member of CANN, please sign up today and help the church be even more effective in proclaiming and defending the truth in our society.
For those who need more convincing about our obligation as Christians to proclaim the truth in the arena of public policy, here are convincing words from Pope Francis:
"A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself – so that those who govern can govern … None of us can say, ‘I have nothing to do with this, they govern …’ No, no, I am responsible for their governance, and I have to do the best so that they govern well … Politics, according to the Social Doctrine of the Church, is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good. I cannot wash my hands … We all have to give something!"
Greg Schleppenbach is executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, with headquarters in Lincoln. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.