It used to be so easy…
Not too many decades ago, it was normal to pray a blessing before meals. In full public view, we would trace the Sign of the Cross on our foreheads, thank God for sustaining us, and acknowledge that Jesus Christ was THE center of our lives. But today, for various reasons, such witness is a rarity. Perhaps this is so because many of us have adopted a “personal” practice of religion, and have consciously agreed not to “impose” it upon others. Or perhaps it has to do with the reality that fewer people today choose to practice their faith. Or, still yet, perhaps it is out of a so-called “respect” for others. In our multicultural political correctness, we desire not to offend others or bring discomfort upon them- especially in regard to some of the teachings of the Church. Nonetheless, I submit that by following this path of least resistance, by succumbing to what might be called “spiritual shyness,” that we are sacrificing one of the major obligations of our Christian faith- to be salt and a source of light for the earth.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is recorded in the first several verses of the fifth chapter. And after the many invocations, Jesus then turns His attention to salt and light…
“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
Salt and Light? You and me? But don’t you know that I am spiritually shy and unwilling to rock any boat? In the two thousand year history of the Church, there are great figures from which to draw upon who were spiritually shy. In his book, More Saintly Solutions, Fr. Joseph Esper offers up the brothers Peter and Andrew.
“Both were apostles, but their temperaments were quite different. Peter was outgoing, impetuous, and anything but shy- making him, in spite of his weaknesses and sins, a logical choice as the leader of the Apostles. In all likelihood, Andrew was quite different. The Gospels don’t directly tell us so, but he seems to have been much quieter and more reserved. (With someone like Peter as a brother, this is hardly surprising; indeed, it would have been surprising had it been otherwise). Nonetheless, Jesus chose him, and He knew what He was doing. Along with St. Paul, Andrew, and all the other apostles- unique men with a wide range of talents and temperaments- became, through their empowerment by the Holy Spirit, the greatest and most important missionaries in history.”
And while we may not be known as the ‘greatest and most important missionaries in history,’ in our own circles of influence (e.g., our families, friends, parish community, town, and workplace), you and I are all that Jesus has to work with- and through. At our baptism, each of us was anointed priest, prophet, and king; profound responsibilities given to the ‘spiritually shy.’
And so, this Thanksgiving Day, or for that matter, at any meal throughout the year; before a fork is lifted, make the suggestion that we thank the Lord- first.
“Bless us, O’ Lord, with these thy Gifts, which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
It’s that easy.