Persecuted though they were, Christians in the early church were noticed by emperors, some of whom even wrote that Christians put others to shame by serving the poor, aiding the sick, and caring for the dead and dying. In other words, those inside the church took care of people better than those outside!
These Christians were not simply known for their beliefs, but by the actions those beliefs inspired. Isaiah writes of this progression: “Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.” (Isaiah 58:10). For Isaiah, “light” would shine as a result of good actions. And as bearers of the Light of the World, they are truly our actions that will prove to our communities who Jesus really is.
What would our community, our city, look like if followers of Jesus became known for this again: caring for God’s creation, for fighting for all of human life – unborn and born – for peacemaking, for forgiving those who wrong us, for extending God’s love to all?
Let us be generous. Let us live life beside each other, united in God’s Spirit and serving the world God has made. Let’s join together to live the words of St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.