The Good News is that God still loves the world through you. You are God's Good News. You are God's love in action. Each time anyone comes in contact with us, they must become different and better people because of having met us. We must radiate God's love."
—Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
The lovely quote above was sent to me by the good folks at PrayMoreNovenas.com. If you have not signed up for their services, I highly recommend it. It is a wonderful online prayer community that takes advantage of the Church's great treasury of novena prayers. You get a daily email reminder each day during a novena. There is not an active novena going on now so they posted the above reflection on Facebook. It was exactly what I needed.
The last year has been nothing but political candidates flooding the airwaves with messages that we will be better off if they are elected. But politicians are not the only ones who should be asking the question, "Are you better off now than you were before?" Each of us needs to be asking that question. When I open my mouth to speak or post a comment on Facebook or write a blog post have left I my audience a little bit holier? Are the people standing next to me in the grocery line a little bit better off for having stood next to me? Did I bring my family closer to Heaven today?
This does not mean that I should always be somber and do nothing but spout Scripture and platitudes. St. Teresa of Avila said, "A sad nun is a bad nun. I am more afraid of one unhappy sister than a crowd of evil spirits." Joy, humor, and even a little snark are very effective in conveying the love of God. A smile or a word of encouragement may brighten the day of the harried mother in the grocery store.
Making someone smile or offering comfort is actually the easy part of radiating God's love. Sometimes, God's love does not make others feel all warm and cozy. Instead, it makes them downright uncomfortable. Offer it anyway. But instead of offering it as a condemnation, offer it as an invitation. Be prepared. This very likely will not give us immediate positive feedback but we have to be confident that when we offer the truth, we are planting seeds. The Spiritual Works of Mercy demand that we admonish sinners and instruct the ignorant. There is nothing loving about turning a blind eye and allowing others to persist in error.
In the months ahead, I know that I will be encountering friends and family members who are living outside the Church. It doesn't do any good to sneer at them or shun them. It also doesn't do any good to pretend that I condone their choices. I will steadfastly offer my family and all I meet the teachings of the Church. I will propose the Church by example and with words if necessary. I want all those I love to accept these teachings. I will pray for them. (See St. Monica's list!) After they encounter me, I hope they know that there is a real alternative to their current path and it is the path that leads to eternal life. This is the hard part of radiating God's love. It is not illustrated with hearts and flowers and rainbows. It is illustrated with tears. But if the tears flow from repentance and conversion, they will be followed by everlasting joy.