Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Let His Light Shine
Recently I was at a restaurant where the waiter was from India. I asked him what part of India he was from and he said, "Goa." "Goa," I said, "My guess is that you are Catholic." He said, "I certainly am," and gave me a thumbs up. We realized that we have something wonderful in common: our faith. We are not just members of a club or some sort of association, we are intimate parts of God's plan for the world. We are Christians. We are Catholics. We exist to bring God's Light to the world. Our faith is not just a matter of what we believe. Our faith is not just a matter of how we live our lives. Our faith is the reason why we exist. We exist so the world might find its salvation in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Faith is a matter of what we are and who we are. What are we? We are children of God, sons and daughters of God. God, the Creator of the Universe, the One who knows what is happening on remote planets in solar systems millions of light years away from here, looks at us and says, "Those are my children. They entered my family when they were baptized. I did not just give them life. I gave them my life."
Many of us are confirmed. The Lord looks on the confirmed and says, "These are the leaders of my people. They are my front line. I am giving them my Power, my Holy Spirit so they can bring others to me. They are mine and I am theirs."
What are we? We are here because we are children of God.
And yet we are more than just members of his family. We are unique individuals. Who are we? Each of us is an individual, a unique reflection of God. Each of us brings His Presence into the world in a way the world never experienced before and will never experience again. Do you realize that God knows who you are? I am sure that there are times that you feel that no one really knows you. No one really understands you. I often feel the same way. We are right, and yet we are wrong. Even if you are married, your husband or wife really does not know you, what it is like to be you. Many of us have close friends, people we have been friends with since kindergarten. Our best friend do not really know us. You are my favorite people. I have laughed and cried with some of you. You have prayed for me when I was sick and I pray for you every day. If someone were to ask you if you knew a Fr. Joe, you would say, "Yes," some of you would say, "Very well." But you really don’t know what it is like to be me. Nor do I know what it is like to be you. But God knows us. God understands us. In fact, God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows the role that each of us has in His plan for the salvation of the universe.
Now, fathom the unfathomable with me. Our lives mean more to God than they mean to anyone else in the world, including our parents, your husbands and wives, your best friends. Why? Why has God bothered with us? Why does He love us so much? It is all because He sees Himself in each one of us. He sees His Son. He loves us like a good parent loves his or her child, unconditionally, for whom that child is.
He sees His Light. God sees the Light of Christ in each of us. "Now, take that Light," the Gospel tells us, "and illuminate the world." The Light we have been given is meant for others to escape the darkness of the world. Did you listen to that first reading: "Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked when you see them an do not turn your back on your own, then your light shall break forth like the dawn.." Jesus says, "You are the Light of the world, your light must shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father."
So what are we? We are children of God. Who are we? We are each unique reflections of God on earth. And why do we do what we do as Christians, as Catholics? Our actions in words and deeds, our reaching out to others as well as our union with God, our charitable life and our prayer life, are ways that we lead others to glorify our Heavenly Father.
May we have the courage to be the people God created us to be.