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Taking a chance

by Mar 26, 2024Friar Reflection

Your average Catholic only needs to stand next to a born-again, evangelical Christian to understand how private we are about our life in faith.  Of course, you’re thinking, “All that public praying and witnessing, that’s their thing. Our faith was more discrete, more private, more, well…… more sophisticated than asking someone in the local WalMart if they had been saved. Ours is a faith steeped in tradition, liturgy, sacraments. This is how we serve the Lord.”

In today’s first reading we are challenged – or we should be – when the prophet Isaiah tells us: “It is too little, the LORD says, for you to be my servant…. I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” A servant can be present, silently present, taking it all in, but never part of the conversation.  Yes, we are called to be servants, but we are also called to be more. Called to moments in our lives, when Virtue shines through, and we also called to testify.  Called to testify as did John the Baptist, “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.” And not in whispered voices, but loud and proud in the public square of our life. We too are called to testify!!

Maybe there is no word more terrifying in the Catholic psyche than “testify.” To stand up and give a witness for Christ. It’s not what we do. Yet, such testimony can move us. We hear the stories of lives changed and uplifted by the grace and mercy of Christ. At our deepest core we connect to the story. We are moved, inspired…but like I said, it’s not what we Catholics do. It is not “our thing.”.

I mean, what if we opened our mouths and looked like fools? What if we did more harm than good? What if people laughed, or even worse… ignored us? What if we just aren’t important enough, or faithful enough, or nice enough for our stories to matter? Can’t we just be present, silently present, taking it all in?

It is too little, the LORD says, for you to be my servant, …I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isa 49:6)

St. Peter was pretty sure he was up to the task. The story of Holy Week will reveal a different story. There in the courtyard of the High Priest we will try to be silent, when challenged will recant his identity, but all is not lost. He will come to understand the meaning of the Psalm verse that truly Jesus is his “rock of refuge, a stronghold to give [him] safety, for [Jesus is his] rock and his fortress.

Let us remember that it is good to be a servant to the Lord Jesus, but  remember there will come the time when the light of our service will not be enough, the light of our spoken witness is needed. It might be as simple as when someone asks you why you serve so generously and you reply: “The love of Jesus compels me.”

Image credit: Prophet Isaiah, Mosaic, Right of Lunette, South Wall of Presbytery, Basilica of San Vitale | PD-US