Deacon Donnie Geaga, from the San Bernardino Filipino Cursillo Movement, has kindly shared his homily for today’s Mass. It is entitled, “Christ Shining Through Our Good Deeds”, and you may read it at the end of this email. Thank you, Deacon Donnie, for sharing your preaching with us.
Homily on “Christ’s Light Shining Through Our Good Deeds”
Is 58:7-10 1 Cr 2:1-5 Mt 5:13-16 Cyc A 5th Sun in OT 2/09/2014
I Introduction Have you had a chance to look at yourself in the mirror lately? If you did, what did you see? For some of us, we see the image of a good and kind-hearted person. For others, the image of a good, young and maturing person who is ready to assert oneself and make a large imprint in the environment. Still others, the image of a good and matured person who still has some battles to conquer and wars to win in the world. And for the rest of us perhaps, the image of a person who sits back and marvels at the good we have accomplished and wonders what could have been done or can still be done on what we have failed to do. Whatever the case, we console ourselves first with the good that we see in ourselves and after more intense looking and thinking, we start to see the other side of our physical appearance – the inner self.
Reminds me of the story of a teacher with 6-year olds in her class. One day, she had asked them, “What is the color of an apple? One of the girls immediately raised her hand and said, “Teacher, apples are red.” “Yes, Nancy, you are right. Then young Robert counters, “Apples are also sometimes green or yellow, Teacher.” “Good answers”, the teacher replies. Then little Nichole in the far corner joined in, “Teacher, I know the answer too - apples are white”. A bit surprised the teacher asked, “Apples are either red, green or yellow or shades of them. Now Nichole, where do you find apples that are white?” “In the inside” was the straight and simple answer. What a profound statement coming from a 6-year old. She not only sees the outside of an apple but more particularly, the inside.
Similarly, we go by what we see outside in a person but God sees and looks more on the inside – on the heart, especially the condition of the heart. Jesus tells us, “It is where your heart is that your treasure lies.”
II Christ’s Light in our Hearts And the heart is where God dwells, for He is our most coveted treasure. For our hearts belong to God and our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit comprising the mystical body of Christ. When God is present in our hearts, it almost becomes second nature for us to keep on thanking God for the many gifts he has bestowed on us. Since they are gifts from God, they are meant to be shared like sharing food with the hungry, giving a drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked and sheltering of the homeless, among other things.
These were basically the same teachings that the Lord exhorts us to do to make a difference in the life of others as contained in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah. It is when we do all these good works, that “… your light shall break forth like the dawn and your wound shall quickly be healed, your vindication shall go before you and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” Is 58:8 Isaiah continues, If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech, if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted, then light shall rise for you in the darkness and the gloom shall become for you like midday”. Surprisingly, these words are still applicable to our present time. As the colloquial phrase goes, “talk is cheap, what we need is action!” We cannot just look at ourselves in the mirror, sit back, relax, watch in the background and not do anything while the world around us is crumbling to pieces. The greatest tragedy occurs when good men do nothing in the midst of oppression, destruction and demoralization.
Jesus teaches us that to be true followers of his, we are to always strive for personal sanctification. But in order to be holy, we must go about the task of bringing others to be part of the One who is holy. In the words of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, “Charity must not remain hidden in the bottom of our hearts; nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Your love must be seen, not so people may give you honor and glory but so that they may see your good works and give praise to your Father in heaven”.
III We are the Salt and Light to the World The proclamation of Jesus Christ is not really heard by the world through theological arguments or through spiritual writings. Rather, the world will come to know Christ by the outward signs of our faith - how we live our faith in our everyday, ordinary existence. So that when they see us, they will reflect and ask why do we do such works when there is no fame or fortune involved? Or why do they serve when it comes at the cost of their own personal wealth and health and even at times at the loss of their lives? If we are truly engaged in living our faith, the love that the world will witness to is the love that Christ personified- the beauty that will eventually bring them to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christian life consists of doing good for others in the way, the truth and the life of Jesus Christ. But what if our salt goes flat or our light is hidden from sight? What if we become timid and complacent because of our fear of being ostracized by society or of how people may react to our public display of our faith and beliefs?
The threat of relinquishing our religious freedom is looming because of the dictates of society and some government leaders. They are telling us to keep our faith to ourselves and that the practice of faith or religion is a private matter. In other words, people of faith are not supposed to make a difference in society; that we are only allowed our freedom of religion within the confines of our churches and Sunday worship. Hence to live out our beliefs beyond the church and in the public eye, is taboo.
IV Conclusion So brothers and sisters, will any of these incursions deter us from living our faith in public? Can we still evangelize and spread God’s Word in a hostile environment? With God’s grace and blessings, we absolutely can. Like salt and the light, the flavor and brightness we give to society must be strong, evident and purposeful, not bland, dull nor inconspicuous. But we do it as Christ did, with humility, love and friendship. And we do all these not to seek self-glorification but do so all for God’s honor and glory. Amen.
Deacon Donnie Geaga St. Peter & St. Paul Church, Alta Loma Diocese of San Bernardino