Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Shine a Light

Late last month I had the honor of attending St. Francis de Sales Seminary's Open House and have been pondering the wonderful homily given by the rector, Fr. John Hemsing, ever since.

He began with a story about three men who all died at the same time and approached the gates of heaven only to find that St. Peter was on break and a substitute was taking his place at the pearly gates.  The man on duty asked the first man if he knew Jesus Christ.  "Of course," the man replied.  "I go to Mass every Sunday!  Yes, I know Jesus Christ."  The next man was questioned and he was also confident in his knowledge of Jesus Christ. He said, "Yes, I know Jesus.  I attend daily Mass and pray the rosary and read scripture every single day."  The man at the gate seemed to be pleased with these two responses.  Finally, he turned to the third man and asked the same question, "Do you know Jesus Christ?"  The man replied, "Of course I do!  I recognized You right away!"

As Fr. Hemsing continued with his homily he drove the point of this story home quite powerfully.  He said it may be fairly easy for you to be holy on the outside, to pray, to attend Mass, to read scripture, to perform works of charity.  But are you really holy on the inside?  Or is there some piece of sinfulness to which you refuse to let go?  Is there some darkness on the inside to which you cling?  What holds you back from really knowing and recognizing Jesus?

Homilies like this always make me cringe because I recognize that his words are directed right to me personally. It's as if Fr. Hemsing was speaking to my heart. This was one of those moments when Christ clearly spoke through the priest as He addressed my own state of sinfulness.  Jesus wants me to see that I am not meant to live with darkness in my soul.  He wants to draw me into the light that can only shine upon me after I let go of my tight and fervent clinging to sin. My efforts to hide in the shadows and to avoid the love that can only be showered upon me when I am contrite and humbled before God have got to be put aside, cast off forever, and my heart needs to open itself to the amazing love of God who wants me to know Him and to be filled with His light and His love.

Are you like me-performing acts of holiness on the outside but clinging to sin within?  Do you think that you can effectively cast the glow of Jesus' love to the world around you while that darkness remains inside your heart?

How blessed we are as Catholics to have recourse to the confessional where the black stain of sin may be scrubbed from our souls.  We don't have to accept simply being holy on the outside through actions that all can see; we can shine with the light of holiness both inside and out through a deep repentance and turning away from all of the shadows that darken our souls.

Dear Jesus, Lord of all that is bright and holy, shine your love within my soul.  Reveal my sins to me and allow me to feel such a deep hatred for them that I will refuse to allow their ugliness to keep me from recognizing You when You call me home to Your eternal kingdom.  Bring me to my knees in contrition for love of You.  Amen.


  1. What a powerful sermon. Yes ... most of us do hide some sin in the dark recesses of our soul.

    Thank you Anne.

    God bless you.

  2. This is a great reflection. Thank you for sharing it. I think it gives all of us something to think about. Some of the times I think it's really hard to recognize Jesus is when I need to see him in someone else--especially someone whom I find it hard to get along with!

  3. I ask myself these questions all the time. I don't want a surface holiness but I DO still have sins I struggle with. I was just listening to a powerful CD today on the importance of Confession and your post reinforces the priests words on this great gift to us. By all means, let's allow the Lord to scrub that black stain of sin from our souls. Great post, Anne.

  4. Seriously, I need to read your blog more often.

    Your loving niece


  5. I think I will be a work in process my whole life...I try and fail over and over again.

    Great post, God bless...

  6. Thank you Victor, Sr. Ann Marie, Mary, Jenny and Lisa-I pray that one day we will be united at those pearly gates and all be able to joyfully say to the Lord "I recognized You right away!" May He wash our sins away with the blessing of His blood spilled for our sakes and may we forever work toward being worthy of His Precious Blood and His great and glorious love!

  7. As usual Anne, I enjoyed your reflections on Fr. Hemsing's homily. I hope also that one day I will be reunited with my loved ones who have passed and hope to be able to say to the Lord "I recognized you right away!" Thank you again for your blog! I love it!
    Lynda Joanisse, Sudbury, ON Canada

    1. Lynda, thank you so much for reading! I am so glad that you are inspired by what you find here-that is my deepest prayer, that sharing my thoughts and experiences here will help others to feel the love of Christ in their own lives! God bless you richly!

  8. Anne
    Thanks for sharing this story. Really powerful!
    God Bless