The professor synthesized our discussion by saying: “You have shared a great variety of powerful stories and descriptions of your life journeys yet your themes are amazingly similar. People have been drawn to you because you have qualities which have shown them that you care about the struggles of their lives. That’s why you’re here. You are answering a call.” The classroom was quiet as each of us pondered the impact of his words. Perhaps I had made the right choice.
Not long after that, I attended a spirituality workshop in which the presenters talked about charisms. Until that presentation, I had understood the word charism to mean “gift.” The speakers said, “Charisms are gifts but they are much more. Charisms are spiritual gifts from God and they are intended to be used for the sake of others. People and groups will be drawn to you for various needs because they are attracted to your charisms.” They went on to explain that we must be responsible for using our charisms because God has given them to us for the good of the community; not merely for our self. Once again, like that moment in my counseling class, I was understanding at a very deep level that I was being called.
In the gospel today, Jesus uses the image of light. It is a powerful image of how we are to live our faith. God gives us charisms which have the potential to bring light to the world. Jesus reminds us that we are expected to put our faith into practice and we do this by using our God-given gifts, talents and charisms. We are the igniters of our lights and they only begin to shine when we answer the call from the community and/or God. We grow and discover new gifts throughout our lifetimes.
If we imagine joining our light with the light of others, and the world is flooded with generous, grace-filled goodness, the power is almost incomprehensible. “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather… places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.”
I became a counselor and practiced for several years working with families, students, couples and individuals. If I did not have the charisms they needed, I knew that people would not come to meet with me. They came… and God walked with us each step of the way.
If we are not igniting the fire of our light, then our charisms may fade and the light may start to flicker; even be extinguished. Jesus emphasizes this when he says: “To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”
Let us reflect today: Do I allow people to see and experience my light? Even when I’m tired, inconvenienced or self-conscious, am I willing to use my charisms and live as a person for and with others?
May the world be encircled by the radiance of our collective response.
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