This is the vision God gives us--to work together to be a light in this world of darkness. This is where were supposed to be going, and were supposed to be able to see the way because each of us is helping to illuminate the way for one another. This vision is not like that other vision called television, where you sit passively observing silliness and worse, and going out and doing nothing. No, this vision is an invitation. It is an opportunity, a calling from God to go out and do something great for God, to do something great with God and with each other for the salvation of the whole world.
We must understand that before everything else, our own lamps must be lit with the unmistakable glow of the holiness of Jesus Christ. Thats the light that leads the way. When people meet us, they have to be meeting Christ in all of his love, in all of his goodness, in all of his holiness. They must be seeing the Holy One of God in us. Thats what we call witnessing. Its the highest form of witnessing, to glow in this world with the goodness and holiness of Christ. We cannot waste time hiding the light under a table, putting it under a bushel basket with what is an absolutely false humility. We must let that light shine, and we must cry out with Mary, God has done great things in me, and holy is his name (Luke 1:49).
Be a Saint
If you have ever had the privilege of being with Mother Teresa, before you left her, you would have naturally said, ?Mother, please pray for me.? And before she left you, she would have said to you, ?Please pray for me.? But then she would have added something else: ?Pray that I do not damage the work of God.? I remember being with her at the first worldwide retreat for priests. A sister from Ireland was asked to accompany her and take care of her, but she couldn’t do much for her. Mother Teresa would-n’t even take a cup of tea, she lived so simply. But this sister had the chance to talk with this well-known, recognized saint. So she asked, ?Mother, when they introduce you and they call you a living saint, how do you feel?? Mother Teresa replied, ?That’s what we’re all supposed to be. And when they say it, I just let it go in one ear and out the other.?
Theres another story about Cardinal Suenens from Brussels. Once, he was in Rome attending the canonization of a saint from Belgium. After the Mass, a reporter asked him, What is a saint? And Cardinal Suenens said, A saint is a normal Christian. Our trouble is were all too abnormal.
Now I loved Mother Teresa. I counted her a real friend. But I have one complaint about her. Do you want to hear what it is? I have only one complaint: Its not enough. Every single one of you should be doing in this world exactly what she did, shining with the light of Christ, letting the light of his holiness, his goodness, love, his dependence upon the Heavenly Father light the path for others. Be a people of light. Bring your light together, and shine together. During this new millennium of grace, lift up an absolute storm of prayer for the darkness to be swept away and for the light to shine.
The Battle of Prayer
I want to tell you a story from Scripture that says how you should pray. This is a story about the people of Judah being called together to prayer in a time of battle. Let me give it to you in a paraphrase from 2 Chronicles 20.
All of Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, with their wives, and their children. All Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord in worship. And the Levites stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. Jehoshaphat, the king, appointed some to sing to the Lord, and some to give praise. They sang and they thanked God for his mercy and enduring love. They came to Jerusalem, to the house of the Lord with harp and lyre and trumpet, and they won the battle.
We can win the battle, but it will start with prayer. We have to be seen as a people of prayer. We have to be known as a people of praise when we go out to do battle. We have to learn to work together in a world where even husbands and wives cant stay together. Children and parents cant stay together. But we as a people of God, as the church of Christ, must shine in our togetherness.
Be a Miracle. Now if we were in New Orleans, and we all walked outside and walked across the Mississippi River, right on top of the water, that would be impressive. But do you know what that gets? Not much more than chicken feed. If we did that, wed only be working a miracle. Thats not enough for Jesus. He says be a miracle. Be a miracle of oneness, of unity. Be the one body of Christ. Be the local church. Help each other so that the world can believe, so that the world can see that the Father sent me.
In order that the world might see, be united as one body. And then let your light shine in the world. When was the last time you wrote an article for the newspaper? Write one. Send something in to a magazine. Talk about Jesus on the street corners. You dont have to have a guitar, but if youre out there, smile. And if somebody says, You look different because youre smiling, be ready to answer.
Scripture says, Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15). Do you know what hope means? It means Im going to have a great tomorrow. If I think Im going to have a rotten tomorrow, thats despair. But we can have hope. In your universities, in your factories, in your office buildings, in your ball parks, in every big city and every tiny town of the world, bring light, bring joy, bring happiness. But before anything else, let the light of Jesus Christs holiness shine in you.
Holiness and Evangelization
In his great document The Mission of the Redeemer, the Holy Father says that there is an intimate connection between our call to holiness and our call to evangelize. When we bring our light into the mission field, we have to make sure its shining with the holiness of Jesus. What does that mean? It means that if you skip the mission to evangelize, youre no saint, and it means that if youre no saint, you wont do a great job at the mission. You have to do both.
Can we let the Holy Spirit bring our lights together? Hes good at that. His light can shine within us, and as we come together, this combined light is capable of illuminating the whole world. If we do that, we will see the light of Christ spreading around the world. Lets make this our goal, so that we can see the great prophecy of Isaiah 9:2 come to pass: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. And on those who live in the shadow of death, light has shined.
The name of that light is Jesus Christ. You are a people of the light. Now carry the light. Be kind, be loving, be angels, messengers, people, children of the light, and Ill see you some day, and together we will see the face of God in the light of the Lamb. Amen.
Reprinted from The Word Among Us, with permission.