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Word of Life. December 2009. “ Your light must shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. ” ( Mt 5,16). This light is seen through “good works.” It shines through the love radiated by Christians to all other persons around them.

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Word of

Life

December 2009

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“Your light must shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”(Mt 5,16)

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This light is seen through “good works.” It shines through the love radiated by Christians to all other persons around them.

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Perhaps you’ll tell me: but Christians are not the only people who do good works. Others also work for progress, establish charitable institutions, promote justice….

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You are right. Certainly, Christians do these things too, but a Christian’s specific task is not this. Christians must introduce a new spirit into the good works they perform, which means that it is no longer they who live in them, but Christ in them.

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In fact, in writing this St. Matthew did not have in mind only such isolated acts of charity as visiting the prisoners, clothing the naked, and all the other works of mercy which are performed to meet the needs of today. Rather, he was thinking of the total commitment of the Christian’s life to the will of God, in such a way that his entire life becomes a continuous series of good works.

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If Christians do this, they become “transparent,” and the praise given for whatever they have done, will not go to them, but to Christ in them, and through them, God becomes present in the world. The Christian’s task, therefore, is to allow this light which dwells within them to radiate, to be the “sign” of God’s presence among men and women.

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“Your light must shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

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If the good works performed by individual believers have this characteristic then the Christian community which is also in the midst of the world, must have a similar specific task; to reveal, through its life, the presence of God, which is manifested where two or three persons are united in his name, a presence promised to the Church until the end of time.

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The early Church gave great emphasis to these words of Jesus. Especially in difficult times when Christians were facing persecution and being maligned, the Church urged them not to react with violence. Their behaviour had to be the best refutation of the evil ascribed to them.

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In St. Paul’s letter to Titus, one reads: “Urge the younger men, similarly, to control themselves, showing yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be criticized, so that the opponent will be put to shame without anything bad to say about us”

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“Your light must shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

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Here’s an experience of Christian life which even today is a light shining forth and leading men and women to God. Let me tell you a story.

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She got a job in an office where most of her colleagues did not want to work. Since she was a Christian and recognized in every person Jesus to be served, she helped everybody, and was always calm and smiling.

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Oftentimes someone would get angry and let it out on her, saying in a loud, mocking voice: “Since you want to work, take this and do my typing job too.”

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But she held her peace and worked on. She believed that basically her colleagues were not bad people. Probably each of them had their own problems.

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One day, when the other workers were not around, the boss approached her and asked: “Now you must tell me how come you never lose your patience and why you are always smiling.” Antoinette evaded the question by replying: “I simply try to stay calm and look out the positive side of things.”

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The boss banged his fist on the desk exclaiming, “No, God is certainly in this affair. Otherwise, it would be impossible! And to think that I never believed in God!”

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A few days later, Antoinette was called to his office by this director. She was told that she would be transferred to another department. “So that,” the director continued, “you may transform it the way you have done with the office where you are now.”

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“Your light must shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Text by Chiara Lubich

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