With Thanksgiving coming up, many of us are turning our thoughts to what we are thankful for. But practicing gratitude can make us aware of just how often we complain. Whether it’s small things like the weather, or big things like what’s going on in the world, there seems to be no shortage of things that can cause us to grumble and complain.
Recently on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ discussed Philippians 2:15, and explained how this verse can help us change our perspective so we can have less grumbling and more gratitude in our lives. He said:
“I know that it’s easy, inside of this world, to fall into that sense that we can complain and grumble and be sorrowful about the world. We can even despair. We live in dark times, it’s true. But as I read this letter from St. Paul to the Philippians I’m really challenged to wonder if I exaggerate my own challenges, exaggerate the darkness of the world.
Let me share with you what St. Paul says. He says, Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
He’s not emphasizing how terrible the world is, but instead is looking at how the first Christians are called to live. He says, In the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world as you hold on the word of life.
You and I are called to be lights in the world. You and I are called to truly shine in the world, to live without blemish. You see, you and I don’t have control over the darkness that exists in the world. We don’t have control over the evils that are perpetrated. And while, yes we are called to pray for the end of them, yes we are called to perform penance, sacrifice, and offer up our own suffering for the extinguishing of evil in the world – it’s mostly out of our control, isn’t it? It’s mostly in God’s hands and in God’s time that He will wipe out evil and sin in the world.
But what we can do is focus on our own lives. What we can do is examine if we are living our lives without blemish. Or do we continually participate in sin? Do we continue to give in to temptation?
If you look at your life right now would you say that you are a light to this dark world? Would you say that you shine at your workplace? At school? At your PTA meetings? Would you say that you shine in such a way that other people notice and give thanks to God? Do you recognize all that He is asking of you in this world?
See, that’s what it means to be Catholic. That’s what it means to be a Christian in the world. To shine so bright in a world of darkness that people start to see Christ. That people recognize in our self-giving, self-offering, in the humble, simple ways that we live our lives that Jesus is still present. That Jesus has conquered and Jesus has won.
If we stop doing that, then yeah, evil has won. If we stop living holy lives then it’s true, darkness will continue to spread and be pervasive throughout the whole world. But if you and I are striving to live holy lives, if we’re trying with all our hearts to shine so brightly that the world sees Jesus, then guess what? All of the efforts, all of the time that you spend trying to be good, holy, obedient and trusting in God will pay off. Because others will come to know Jesus.
It’s the mission of Relevant Radio® to shine in the darkness and to bring that Good News to a world that needs it so much. Let’s strive to do that with all our hearts. Let’s do our part that we can to really, fully live our lives as a shining light. We can’t change the darkness, but by golly, we can really live holy lives.”
Listen to the full reflection below: