You Radiate Christ
On July 3, 2017, my uncle Mark died suddenly and tragically. It was not a beautiful and gentle end to a long life. It was unexpected and painful. I’ll never forget getting the call that night from the police, informing me he had died. I’ll never forget driving my devastated mom to her sister’s house. I’ll never forget the look on my aunt’s face as she asked me, in all sincerity, why God would let something like this happen.
My uncle was warm and charming, able to make instant friends with anyone. He took his dog for a walk around the neighborhood and had a conversation with every person he passed. He called when you were in trouble. He spent his time at family gatherings playing with all the kids, instead of watching football with the other dads.
The week after he passed, family gathered as preparations were made. It seemed like there were always dozens of people at my aunt’s house. The lasagnas – oh my, the lasagnas – and other dishes overflowed the fridge. So many people brought over food to offer whatever comfort it could provide.
WHO IS HOLY ENOUGH?
What does it even mean to radiate Christ? How do you radiate Christ in a situation like that? Who is qualified? Who has the right theology degrees? Who is holy enough?
It sounds silly, but when many people think of evangelization – sharing the good news of the gospel with the world around us – these are the worries that come to mind. I’m not holy enough. I don’t know the answers to all the questions. I don’t know the right words to say. I’m not qualified.
If I asked you to think of someone who radiates Christ, someone will immediately come to mind. If I asked you to think of how you radiate Christ, many of you would think you don’t or can’t. But that’s not how radiating Christ works. Radiating Christ is mysterious, because God is mysterious.
AN UNEXPECTED GIFT
Surrounded by family and friends and lasagnas just a few days after my uncle’s death, my aunt was still shattered. But then something happened – a gift from God that made her feel like everything was going to be OK.
There was a young man who lived down the street. He was home on summer break from college. My uncle used to talk to him about football when he walked the dog because the guy had been the local high school’s quarterback and my uncle played college football. He knew what had happened and wanted to do something – but really, what could a college kid who lived down the road do to help in such a horrible situation?
He noticed the lawn needed to be mowed – something my uncle usually did – so he pushed his mower down the street and cut the grass. He didn’t knock on the door or ask permission. He called no attention to himself. But my aunt heard the lawnmower and looked out her kitchen window, saw him, and God spoke to her in that moment.
She felt like God was telling her everything was going to be okay. It didn’t heal her pain. It didn’t make her feel better. But for her, the young man with the lawnmower radiated Christ.
As we celebrate those who radiate Christ, let’s shine a light on the fact that God uses each of us in mysterious ways. Let’s shine a light on the fact that you radiate Christ. You might not know when or how, but God shines through you in the simple, the everyday.
This article appeared in the September edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.