Glorify God — By Fr. Joseph, OP
One of the chief messages in this weekend’s Gospel is that “your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5:16). The text could have just as easily read, “That they may see your good deeds and imitate your random acts of kindness,” but it didn’t. Doing good deeds is vital to Christianity, but this is not its heart. While we clearly see in the Gospel of Matthew that our eternal outcome inheritance depends on our good deeds (see Mt 25: 31-46), the goal of these good deeds is that others will glorify God.
With the help of our FOCUS Missionaries and the events leading up to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., the Newman Center has sought to remind her students that what we say is often less impactful than how we say it. People will not remember what was said, but how they were treated. The opposite of this is shown in the current political climate of shouting and demonizing others. I’ve seen few people change their minds or convince others.
We cannot let this happen in our mission to spread the Gospel message. No, the Church does not move with the world. There are stances the Church takes that many people find difficult. Even to churchgoers, we must encourage each other not to settle, but to keep growing in the practice of the Catholic Faith. Yes, Jesus had a few mountaintop preaching moments where He turned everything upside down. But the majority of His life was spent being with the people: eating with sinners, touching lepers and prostitutes, and talking with the hated Romans and Samaritans.
Evangelizing our culture can be like a marriage. And yes, there will be fighting. But fighting can be healthy. There are often deep rooted and harmful tendencies in a spouse. Real action is needed to remove those tendencies. Fighting might be the only way. If it is done in a way that listens with respect, seeks to understand, and remembers gentleness as it remains firm, real progress can be made.
This is how we have to pursue some of our causes, whatever they may be. But do we fight with this gentleness that seeks to understand? Jesus reminds us that the poor will always be with us (see Mk 14:7, Mt. 26:11). In other words, our causes will never be the answer to the problem. The fight for these causes might well be the means of our salvation (see again Mt 25:31-46), but if they are done with anger, fear, self-righteousness, or any other tool of the devil, we might find ourselves closing in on ourselves and moving away from compassion, peace, and charity.
Whether we’re fighting for unborn babies or immigrants, God puts even our opponents before us. The people who obstruct our causes (and they might have more insight than us!) are also ones to whom we must minister. That person might not become a Republican or a Democrat, but through our loving and respectful dialogue, they might meet the person of Jesus Christ. Through your good deeds, though they might not change laws, people might change hearts, and they will glorify God.