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Father Muench Says...

The call to be a light for the world

Sept. 16, 2015

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Recently, I received an interesting request in an email from a couple who formerly lived in my parish and now live in South Carolina. 

They explained that their daughter who is now in high school is going on a retreat.  I remember this girl from grade school several years ago.  Now she is beginning her junior year in high school.

At her school, the juniors start the school year with this retreat.  As part of the retreat experience, the parents and others are encouraged to write a letter to the retreatant as an opportunity to encourage them and to tell them how they cared about them.

So, this mother, who reads my blog, contacted me, asking me to write a letter to her daughter while she is on retreat.  I was pleased to be asked but I did take a while before I could decide what to write.  What would you have written to her?

I decided to emphasize to her the teaching of Jesus that each one of us has been blessed with many unique talents and these talents are truly gifts from God. 

The task for all Christians is to discover our God-given talents with the help of the Holy Spirit.  Then we pray that God gives us the courage to use our abilities well and make them part of our lives.

The Christian life is about recognizing how much God loves us, how much God blesses us with the ability to live a good Christian life. The great love God has for us means we can live well and, in this way, make our world a better place.

In my letter to this young woman, I decided to use Jesus’ image of being a light for the world, an image for those who follow the Lord’s message.  This seemed such a good image; living a good life can be like a light for others, leading the way through the darkness of confusion and unhappiness.  I hoped that this idea would impress this high school girl to realize that she can touch other and even make the world a better place without saying a word.

It is the message for all of us – to be a light for the world.

The pope is coming!

Speaking of being a light for the world, I am thinking of Pope Francis’ visit next week.  Are you ready for the Pope’s visit?  It should be quite a week.  Pope Francis has already won the hearts of so many American Catholics as well as many who are not Catholic.

When I think of Pope Francis, I think of someone who truly likes people.  I can see that in his eyes when he interacts with people.  I also know that he recognizes the pain in the hearts of so many who are suffering.  I think that is why mercy is so important to him, especially for the divorced and remarried.

I know myself that when I personally have been able to rectify a marriage so that couple can receive the sacraments, immense happiness is expressed by these folks.  I know that Pope Francis realizes the longing in their hearts for the Holy Eucharist.  Their happiness is huge and very, very evident.

Pope Francis will bring many messages to our country.  I believe that one of those messages will be mercy.  He wants the world to know how compassionate the Catholic Church is.  This is a powerful message especially for all of us priests. Indeed, this is an important message for all of us.  Pope Francis will work hard to reach all of us people.

Everybody is intrigued about this visit.  There will be plenty on television to see.  I learned that Time Warner is dedicating a television channel to all the details of the Pope’s visit.

I encourage you to listen carefully to the Pope’s words.  I worry a bit about the many analysts – who will be interpreting the Pope’s message.  Sometimes they put a bit of themselves in their analysis. 

Listen carefully to the message the Pope has for us.  

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