We will live in a way that draws others to Jesus.
There is a popular statement attributed to St. Francis, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
The story goes something like this: St. Francis once said to a novice, “Brother, let us go into Assisi and preach.” Together they went up into the city and quietly walked through the streets. But Francis never said a word to any of the bystanders on the streets, even though many looked on curiously at the strangely clad men. After they exited through the city gate and headed back down to the friary of St. Mary of the Angels, the novice was confused. “And what about preaching, brother Francis?” he asked. “It is done,” replied the Saint “when we witness to others the joy and beauty of our evangelical life in our simplicity, in addition to the care and concern we have shown for one another. Thus, our example is often the most eloquent kind of preaching. Remember this young friar: Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
In Matthew’s Gospel we find Jesus encouraging his followers to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
This verse comes within the passage where Jesus is encouraging his disciples to be the salt and light in the world. In the Scriptures, just as light symbolises goodness, darkness symbolises evil. Jesus described himself as the “Light of the world”. Surprisingly, he then went further and said to his followers, “You are the light of the world”. He is confident that we will contribute to the enlightenment of those around us to the extent that we are united to Him.
“Letting your light shine before others” is not putting on an act or drawing attention to your good qualities. It is simply acting as best you can according to the lights that you have been given.
This is what we are all called to do. To do this effectively, we should recall the sobering reminder from Jesus:, “Without me you can do nothing”. So ask him to help you lighten up any darkness that surrounds you.
God our Father, on a hillside in Galilee, your Son Jesus called us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Give us the strength and wisdom to become the people of the Beatitudes in our day, so that our words may season the world with the flavour of the Gospel and our lives be shining examples of Jesus who is the true Light of the world. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.