Saturday, August 6, 2022

Dressed for action and keep our lamps lit

This commentary is  inspired by the readings taken from 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time for Year C, especailly the gospel.  The readings are as follows: Wisdom 18:6-9; Psalms 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22;  Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 12:32-48

On Saturday, July 31, 2022 , Fr Shea announced my coming out of retirement to assist occasionally with homilies, he compared me to Guy La Fleur, who came out of retirement from Montreal to play with New York and later Quebec Nordiques. Fr Shea added, he was still pretty good.

 Well I hope I am still pretty good.

Thinking about Guy La Fleur reminded me of what Wayne Gretzky said about him: In his memoirs, he explained that Lafleur "was quicker and faster without wearing full shoulder pads"

You see LaFleur came dressed for action, perhaps not with the equipment the world suggested but rather what gave him confidence to play the best game.

Now you might wonder, what a commentary on a hockey player has anything to with the gospel today, but it does. You see the image of Guy LaFleur and his choice of equipment nicely illustrates Jesus’ instruction in the gospel today, when he says:  Dress for action and keep our lamps lit.” In other words, Jesus wants us to be ready to play our best game.  

Jesus’ request that we dress for action has little to do with the gear or clothing we wear; it is about our faith, and the lamps we carry is our witness.

Now you might think, how do I wear faith; isn’t it the same as giving witness? Not quite. One explanation of how we wear faith is found in the recent homily  Pope Francis gave to the youth in Iqaluit (ih-kah-loo-it).  Here he used a lamp the Innuit people light in the dark winter months. It is called qulliq (ko͞o′lēk′), which is made from a hollowing a stone to burn blubber to generate both light and heat.

For Pope Francis the stone represents our physical and spiritual self. The hollow is the space we carved out  to make room for God, displacing our egocentric desires and wants.

By making room for Jesus, we are dressed for action. As the second reading, taken from the Letter to the Hebrews,  tells us then we will have the confidence to play our best game,  since now we are convinced, we are assured, that things we hope for will turn out.

In the same way Guy LaFleur’s speed and scoring ability would never have been realized if he remained on the bench, our faith produces very little unless we express it.

We often forget that after Jesus identified himself as the light of the world, he then turned and told his disciples: “You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:14). 

These words of Jesus are not a compliment but a reminder that receiving the light of Christ is not just a gift intended to dispel our darkness, rather it is intended to be shared. Faith is more than a formula we memorize, or a set of rules we follow, it is intended to be lived by becoming a light for the world as Jesus did for us.  As Pope Francis explained to the youth in Iqaluit., “Our lives are intended to be a perennial testimony to the life that never ends, a light that shines and that no one has been able to extinguish.”

We know if we have made a place for Jesus, if we are dressed for action, when we live each day in the manner Pope Francis told the youth by being a light that brightens the darkness of others. He said: “Each day you are called to bring new light into the world, the light of your eyes, the light of your smile, the light of the goodness that you and you alone can bring.”

Guy LaFleur came dressed for action by discarding what weighed him down. We are dressed for action when we leave room for God in our lives, so we can play our best game by  sharing the light of Christ with others.

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