“…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven.”
So, there is such a thing as “boasting in the Lord?” I want to share a brief “conversion story” I had recently. I share this, strictly in the hopes that it may help someone else.
Soon after beginning to work in a parish here in Birmingham, I realized that I was feeling “negative vibes” towards one of the staff. It was not anything intentional toward me from that person, it was just that I thought (remember “I thought,” not the other person “thought”) that they always had an answer and that their experience gave them all the wisdom they needed. I was turned off by the person. I rudely would not pay attention if I didn’t have to, especially at team meetings. He had to have noticed, it was so obvious. It was my selfish way of discounting him.
This had gone on for almost a year! I’ve been praying for light in this matter. I did not want to be like this. It was really hampering progress on the team. But my pride and ego were telling me that I should not let this person get away with seeing their wisdom as sufficient to resolve any issue.
During the course of the year we really did not have any direct, cooperative projects until we “agreed” to team up on the Adult Vacation Bible School.
“This is was not going to go down well, “I thought. But, I, somehow, stopped myself, from continuing down that negative path of selfish thinking, and I prayed for a change in me. At least, I think I did!
When we met I just made the decision to allow him and his ideas to flow. I paid attention, and was able to respond with ideas of my own. It became a give and take. The “climate” for me became inviting and creative. In fact, some self-revelatory information came out on both sides which has opened up new avenues of cooperation.
Jesus’ reflections on salt and light brought this whole incident to the fore. Salt and light describe grace for me. Neither salt nor light add anything to which they are applied. Salt adds nothing to food but only sharpens its flavor; light puts nothing in a room, but, instead, allows us to see what is already there. What was already in this relationship was the possibility for creativity and growth. So in a similar way Jesus is a light in our world. It is in the light of His life that we see who we are and what we are capable of being. Unbeknownst to me the other person was playing a role in this. There were spiritual dimensions we would never have known if he hadn’t helped to light them up inside of me.
Jesus does this. No one has shown that of which human love is capable. Nobody shows better how to relate to the source of our being, or to each other. It is in His light that we discover our own depth, width, length and worth. Where would we be without Him?
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P., is the administrator at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Birmingham, Alabama.