“You’ve got to stay bright to be the light of the world…”
So goes the song from “Godspell,” encouraging us to use our gifts and not hide them away.
Growing up in the Catholic church in the 1970s, the hymns “Whatsoever You Do,” and “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love,” were sung regularly. Later the hymn “We Are Many Parts” carried the same theme. As Christians, we are meant to do for others—most especially by harnessing our unique gifts and powers.
This week’s readings carry that theme. In the Old Testament selection, Isaiah promises that works of sharing and generosity bring benefits back to the giver. The not-so-secret extra benefit: helping others helps us.
Paul tempers this message a bit, reminding us (and himself) that alone we are weak and flawed, and that we need to rely on God’s power and wisdom.
In Matthew’s Gospel, I hear the full song “You Are the Light of the World.” Jesus challenges us to use our gifts. There’s no value in diminishing, ignoring, or wasting them. Use them and shine for all to see!
In our work at the Ignatian Solidarity Network, whether each team member’s focus be ecology, migration, economic justice, education, development, or communications, we use our skills and simultaneously depend on the strengths of our associates. This is our “salt”; this is our “light.”
Remember that work for justice, while hard and often full of roadblocks, by nature should be work that brings joy. It feels right, it feels true. And these gifts are meant to be seen and shared, to spread justice and to glorify our Creator, the source of these gifts.
Ann Daley Smrekar is administrative assistant for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. She is a graduate of John Carroll University and served with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.