Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Shine a Light
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.