With the Fortnight for Freedom initiated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops upon us, I’d like to share with you a bit of inspiration that I discovered. It’s a reflection written by Schoenstatt Father Nicolas Schwizer about being the light of the world.
One line in particular struck me: “We know that after the Ascension, Christ has only one possible apparition… ours. The only face He can show to our contemporaries – to call them and convert them – is ours, that of our families, of our communities and groups,” wrote Fr. Schwizer. What a great attitude with which to approach this fortnight! To move ahead, conscious that we are the face of Christ for everyone – those with whom we stand and those whom we oppose– can be our greatest weapon in this battle for our religious freedom. I hope that you gain insight, courage, and resolve from this reflection. I know I have. Perhaps, keeping in mind that we are the face of Christ for others, we can make this a fortnight of apparitions that will elicit the conversion of those who seek to deny us our freedom.
Light of the World – Fr. Nicolas Schwizer
“You are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world.” The Lord addresses these words to all Christians, to each one of us.
We are called to be witnesses to our Christianity in this world, before all men. And this testimony should take place not so much in words, but especially in our actions and deeds because the modern world wants words to become deeds; principles to be effects; faith and charity to be works.
The present world will never convert to God if it does not find in us, in our Christian lives, a sign and testimony to the presence of God. We know that after the Ascension, Christ has only one possible apparition… ours. The only face He can show to our contemporaries – to call them and convert them – is ours, that of our families, of our communities and groups.
So then, how can we be light of the world? How can we give witness to Christ among men?
The characteristic sign of the authentic Christian is love, the love for God and the love for mankind. We will be salt of the earth, light of the world, according to the measure in which we are faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ’s love without limits in our own lives.
It is the only convincing proof that He continues to live: that our Christian community, our families, each one of us lives with so much love and faithful service that others feel the desire to unite with us. May they only explain our Christian service to others admitting that Christ is alive anew in us.
And we know: Love for neighbor is love for God. Because since the incarnation of Christ, the second commandment is similar, like the first. Let us not then separate the love of God from the love of neighbor!
St. John Chrysostom explains: “Whoever accepts one of the two precepts, also observes the other. Neither a soul without a body, nor a body without a soul can constitute a man. Thus, one cannot speak of the love of God, if one does not have as a companion the love for neighbor.”
Therefore, when we love our brothers and sisters, we are loving God in an authentic and direct way. And, furthermore, the proof that we love God is that we love one another. Christ has revealed that we have the same relationship with God as with any of our brothers and sisters. We are so close to God as to any of our neighbors.
St. John explains to us in his 1st letter: “Whoever says he loves a God, whom he does not see, without loving his brother whom he sees, is a liar.” Love for God lends itself to many illusions, to much imagination. But the love for our brothers and sisters is extraordinarily real.
At any moment, we can know where we stand. Thus, our love for others is our concrete way of entering into the love of God. The neighbor is God within the reach of our love. We do not truly love Christ if we do not love Him in our brother.
That fraternal love is the great sign of the Christian, the only testimony which others accept, the only convincing invitation for those on the outside.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us try to deepen in ourselves that love for God in others, and may it help us discover and overcome the obstacles so that it may be more complete. Thus our life will each time be more salt of the earth and light of the world.