Monday of the 25th Week in Ordinary time
Proverbs 3:27-34; Psalm 14; Luke 8:16-18
Use it or lose it. I’m sure many of us have heard this phrase before given it’s use in a variety of contexts and situations. It’s sometimes used as a reason for the introduction of checkers or mahjong to the elderly, especially those living in homes, to keep up their mental acuity. It’s also cited as a reason for why astronauts exercise so much while in space to prevent their muscles from atrophying in the zero-gravity. For mind and muscles, if we don’t use them, we could well lose them.
The first reading from the book of Proverbs tells us to use it. To be told to do good isn’t something groundbreaking, in fact it should be the normal way of life for all of us who claim to be Christian. So why is the author of Proverbs tell us the obvious? Do we need to be told the obvious?
The answer to that comes from the gospel where the Lord tells us not to hide the light of Christ, not to hide the potential goodness that we have from others. We’re all blessed with the grace of God’s goodness by virtue of us being created in the image of God (Gen 1:27) but we can’t just rest easy on that. We are called to show our faith by being active hearers of the Word of God – we need to act on what we hear and do so openly. Some of us might be a little more reserved about doing good things for the faith but the Lord encourages us to go out and do these things anyway.
Today’s reading comes just after the parable of the sower and that image gives an additional insight into why and how we should act. Even the seeds of the sower that find themselves in rich soil need to be tended to. Hearing and receiving the Word of God with joy is just the beginning – we need to nurture the shoots so that they grow and truly produce the hundredfold fruits described there. Listening to the Word is but the beginning as we need internalise this through action.
St Ignatius says as much in The Spiritual Exercises, ‘Love is shown more in deeds than in words.’ We’re called to act. It’s almost impossible to love one another as the Lord has loved us without acting and doing the good that’s described in the book of Proverbs. The Lord didn’t just say that he loves us but acted on that, even all the way to Calvary. While we might not be expected to do the same, we are called to act in ways that are similar.
The ability to act and do good come from God as well – they’re graces that the Lord put in us as the ability to respond to the call to serve and to love. That’s what’s given and if we don’t use them, the gospel tells us that we might lose them. How? Our hearts could become hardened from not loving enough, we become selfish, loving others becomes chore and slips from being integral part of our lives. If we use these gifts, more will be given and our ability to love and do good improves or increases. Love builds on itself and gets multiplied as the Lord multiplied bread for others.
And so, we’re reminded not to hide our light from others. To convert what we heard about God into action. And the last bit is that we shouldn’t need to worry – that our doing good should be a natural extension of our reception of the Word. Thus, we pray for the grace to be this light to others, that the Lord will help us to use this light, to show this light to others, to be the light of the world that we are meant to be.