Grace to you!
In today’s reflection, drawing from the Lord’s message in Luke 6:39-45, I share what I consider three ideas for effective, credible witnessing to Christ. They include honest self-examination, producing fruits of righteousness, and speaking words that flow from grace.
True and honest self-examination.The good witness of the Lord is one who is thoroughly self-aware. The person listens to the Lord and intentionally examines himself or herself so as to constantly align to the core values of the Lord’s mission. This self-examination would help us to pay attention to how to improve ourselves and be less judgmental of others. The more judgmental we are of others may mean we are not seriously paying attention to our own weaknesses. Often, we tend to focus on the faults of others while giving ourselves a pass for our own misdeeds.
The Lord asks us: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck thatis in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (Lk 6:41-42).”
Producing fruits of righteousness.Sometimes, we tend to believe that how we live our lives matters less than what we say. Actually, true credibility isn’t just a matter of what we say or preach. Rather our entire person, words, nonverbals plus actions, reveal so much about who we are. You can be sure that people’s actions, especially when they are in their relaxed, unguarded mood, reveal so much about what is happening inside. If the inside is deeply rooted in God’s Word, if the inside of us is truly renewed and pure, our actions would be consistent with those holy qualities.
Saint Paul reminds us that anyone led by the Spirit of God, that is, a person converted from within and transformed by the Holy Spirit, necessarily produces fruits of righteousness (see Gal 5:22-23). Those fruits are virtuous qualities or skills such as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23).So, if you want to know what is inside of you and to what extent your heart has been transformed by the Lord, see if your behavior is consistent with these qualities.
Also, in addition to these fruits are others which flow from the authentic life of Christ. It is being able to draw others to Christ through our lifestyle. When people can see us, hear us, observe our actions, and give glory to God because of us (Mt 5:16), then that is a sign of living the life of Christ. Our lives bear fruit if they draw others to the Lord.
Gracious Words.The Lord says: “…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Lk 6:45). What we say reveals what is locked deep in our hearts. Some say, it doesn’t matter what we say. What matters is whether we mean it or not. Actually, for me, I believe what we say matters whether we mean it or not.
Why would a child of God say something that does not glorify God while knowing he or she doesn’t mean it? Why tell lies or use foul words when we know we don’t mean it? It actually leaves a bad taste to do so. Doesn’t it?
Moreover, we forget that the words we speak are the extension of ourselves. Our words carry with them some aspects of our thoughts. They convey our deep thoughts in different ways. We may give excuses about how little they represent us. Yet, those excuses are simply evading the reality that manifests itself from our unconscious. Our words reveal us. Scripture says, “the expression of a thought discloses the cultivation of a man’s mind” (Sir 27:6). The best way to know a person is through what they say, write, and do. Those are the keys to getting to the hidden mind. Those are all we have got to assess anyone. Only God sees the inside and we are not God.
Hence, the credible witness of the Lord is the one whose words and actions are consistent with their claimed encounter with the Lord. This is the message the Lord wants us to bear in mind today.
Praying that the Good Lord will give us the grace to speak and act in ways that manifest what we believe as those born anew in Christ. I also pray with Saint Paul that we may“be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58). Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[8thSunday Ordinary Time: Sir 27:4-7; 1 Cor 15:54-57; Lk 6:39-45]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.