The Gospel of September 24th (Luke 8: 16-18) emphasizes that God desires us to respond to His generosity by using our gifts in union with His grace. The Lord desires to give us His gifts but He also desires to challenge us. As good stewards of His wisdom, we are not meant to conceal Wisdom’s Light under a “vessel or hide it under a bed.”
By virtue of our Baptism, we are all sent out into the vineyard – some early – some late, but called and sent nonetheless.
We need to remember, however, that when we stand in the vineyard of our home or workplace and promote His love and defend the truth of the Church and its traditions, we will be attacked and maligned – similar to all the martyrs who gladly sacrificed their lives in defense of the Faith.
As you read this, martyrs of our own day quietly die to self or, in actual body, in Africa at the hands of terrorists, or in Asia, through the harassment and torture of hostile governments. Spiritual martyrdom is also happening in America, at the hands of a secular and hostile media and government that appears to have lost its sense of ethics and Constitutional roots and tradition.
What does this tell us? It tells us once again that our Church, under extraordinary pressure and intimidation, refuses to run, refuses to fold, refuses to hide the Light of Christ’s love in a darkened world. The forces of evil would not be working so diligently to destroy the Church, both from within and without, unless they knew what many Christians have come to take for granted, that the flame of the Holy Spirit’s Wisdom and Grace, combined with the Word of God as expressed by Jesus Christ, can set the world on fire with the Father’s love.
Let us pray that the blood, sweat, and tears of today’s martyrs who suffer in silence and in darkness, known only by the Heart of Christ, may enliven us to gently, but courageously, proclaim the Light of Christ’s Truth to those around us. Let us bravely set foot onto the barque of Christ, strong in our faith, armed with God’s grace and standing ready for the onslaught that will inevitably come.
The above painting, entitled The Light of the World, was painted by Charles Bosseron Chambers (1882 – 1964). Mr. Chambers was born in St. Louis. He was known for his figurative work, mainly portraits and works with religious motifs. He studied art at the Berlin Royal Academy and at the Royal Academy in Vienna. In 1916, Chambers returned to America and settled in New York City. It was in New York City that he painted the The Light of the World.
This painting by Chambers was the first painting that made an impression on me as a child. As a preschooler, I remember that my mother hung a little 5 by 6 inch framed reproduction near my bed. At bedtime, I remember staring at it in the dim light that filtered into the room from the hallway and wondering what the child Jesus was thinking. At that time it appeared to me that He had a concerned look in His eye. Why? What was He concerned about?
I still have the picture. Now that I am in my mid sixties I understand why He is so concerned, but I recognize that it is a concern enveloped in eternal love.
Copyright © 2012 Deacon Paul O. Iacono All Rights Reserved. Thanks to the following blog for the image of The Light of the World: http://saintraphaelmessenger.blogspot.com/2011_02_01_archive.html .