Is This Action Light or Darkness?
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 5, 2023
“Just so, your light must shine before others, so that they may see your
good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
from Matthew 5:13-16
What is the purpose of my life? Most of us ask this question at one time or another. Of course, if there is no God, as some in this world choose to believe, then anything goes and one might as well be selfish. But if God has a plan for us, if we are created in his image and likeness, then every action of our lives has meaning and purpose.
God pays attention to the details. Life consists of frequent small encounters with one person after another, one situation after another, mostly mundane, and occasionally great moments as well. What kind of witness to Christ do my daily actions convey? What effect am I having on the people around me? This truly constitutes one of the greatest purposes of life, that we are to be somehow, a force for good in the lives of others in the world in which we live. Our lives are not given final meaning by the square footage of our home or the size of our bank account, all of which pass away, but on the real wealth, how my life was a witness to Christ by words and deeds, the small acts of kindness and the ways in which we have been an example of light to others.
A simple example from everyday life: I went to the grocery store once and noticed that someone had left a shopping cart in the parking lot in a very dark place that was a hazard to other vehicles. The proper place to put it was only about one car away. This is such a small thing, but it showed that the person who abandoned their cart there was selfish and didn’t think of others. Sometimes, a selfish action on our part is the equivalent of leaving a shopping cart in the middle of the street at night. We do not realize that when the next person hits it, we are responsible before God.
Again, when I look out after communion at Mass, there are at times a few folks that always leave early. Some have a legitimate reason for doing this (so we never judge!), but what about the rest? They wish to be unnoticed so they leave right after communion. One would never leave right after that main course at a friend’s house without thanking them or even saying goodbye, let alone a meal and sacrifice with God! Instead of being a bad example to others, how can I be a light to others? How can I be a good example? Do my actions have a bad effect on others or a good one?
Being a light can be challenging, but Christ asks only that we be attentive to the opportunities that each day brings to do good. Our whole future rank in heaven (how conformed to the Lord’s will for our lives we will be) depends precisely on this.