A hymn we sing at Mass has a refrain that goes something like this, “You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before all, that they may see the good that you do and give glory to God.” It is a good exercise to periodically reflect on if and how our life does or does not bring light to our little corner of the world.
A light bearer tries to be positive most of the time. Those whose light is usually dim seem to find fault with just about everything. They tend to put stumbling blocks in front of new ideas. Make a suggestion and they will find reasons why your idea probably won’t work or it was tried before and wasn’t effective.
Another way one can contribute to the darkness of the world is by gossip and destructive criticism of others and by habitual complaining about people and situations. If you say it’s a beautiful day, they will let you know that the forecast calls for snow or rain; or if you congratulate him or her for some accomplishment, the person will give you all the reasons why it really wasn’t that great and point out all the mistakes.
A spirit of negativity and pessimism drags others down. Those who know people who tend to be this way often dread seeing them come into the room or may avoid speaking to them. I know people in my own community that I try not to sit with at meals. All they seem to talk about is all that is wrong with the world.
On the other hand, those who bear light tend to look for the good in others and in the events of life. They strive to be hope-filled, rather than hopeless. Their positive spirit lifts others up. Their presence brightens up the atmosphere. They are positive and it is a blessing to be around them. Their behavior speaks of God’s love.
To be a bearer of Christ’s light and hope does not mean denying the reality of our broken and troubled world. It is the deep conviction that, despite the darkness we see all around the world, God is somewhere in it all. It is believing that God can and does bring good out of suffering and hope out of despair.
A light-bearer is confident in God’s faithful love. He or she knows that God loves all that he created and cares about each and every one of us. Those with a positive spirit look at a glass of water and see it half full, while the negative person views it as half empty.
I believe people can learn to be positive and cultivate a spirit of light. One way to develop this attitude is to try to look for the good in each person and situation, even when it might be difficult. Refraining from judging others and learning to give people the benefit of the doubt are other ways.
Another exercise all of us can do each evening is write down up to 10 positive things that happened to us personally or to someone else that day. This might be difficult at first, but eventually we will see more and more good in others and in the events of our daily lives.
As Christians we are called to be the light of the world, to be bearers of God’s love; and true love builds up.
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