Epiphany Association

To let the light of Christ radiate from us is to be and become light-bearers of virtuous living. In the words of the apostle Paul, If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:25-26).

To practice virtue and shun vice is a continuous challenge. We learn, for example, in the Book of Exodus that the Israelites complained about the prolonged stay of Moses on Mount Sinai. They not only did so because they missed his presence but also because they were deprived of God’s mystery, which Moses had made more visible to them through his intercession.

Perhaps they crafted a golden calf not so much out of wicked intentions but because they had a strong desire to have among them a “god” they could behold with human eyes (see Exodus 32:1-6). Their virtue lay in their longing to gaze upon the face of God; their vice prompted them to choose idolatry over adoration.

Do we not do something of the same when we mold the “golden calf” of self-centered plans and projects? 

Moses had no choice but to seize the golden calf, smash it, grind it into powder, and scatter it in the drinking water the Chosen People depended upon (see Exodus 32:19-20). His firmness at that moment had to replace his gentleness. There is an interplay between these two virtues, but on occasion one or the other has to prevail to radiate the true meaning of justice, peace, and mercy.

To radiate Christian virtues in daily life, we need to discern what Christ asks of us in each situation. What is essential and what is non-essential?  For example, patience in the face of provocation is a virtue inspirational to everyone whereas righteousness without compassion can be a vice that tarnishes Christ’s counsel to forgive others rather than to judge them harshly.

If what Jesus asks of us is to practice the virtue of peacemaking, then we do our best not to upset others by using insulting words or making them feel inadequate.

Different people radiate virtue in different ways. Patient chess players take time before making their move. Patient first responders make lightning speed decisions incompatible with the virtue of quiet pondering. Different though they may be, both approaches manifest the light of virtuous living because they represent honest attempts to follow the Lord’s call.

By the same token, when we live in quiet fidelity to the common good, one person’s weakness can be balanced by another’s strength. The more we sense what Christ would do were he in our situation, the more likely we are to show love and respect for all those entrusted by God to our care.

While we may not be able to alter all the bad habits of others, we can influence them for the better, provided we do not impose our own egocentric convictions on them. We cease taking credit for what we do and accept in humility that it is Christ who does the good through us. 

The best communicator of essential Christian virtues is our silent yet radiant witness to Christ in modes of presence beyond what words convey.

To make coffee in the morning for our staff, to be on time for an appointment, to clean the office, to answer the phone politely, to drive a friend to the train station a distance from our home—all of these virtuous deeds can be labeled trivial, but they are really the treasures of spiritual living and the means by which we celebrate the eucharist of everydayness.

When we find ourselves caught up in busy work to the exclusion of being kind to others, our chances of radiating Christian virtues diminishes. We need to guard against being so task-oriented that we forget to take care of the people the Lord sends our way.

Have there not been times in our life when we felt disinclined to talk to someone because we were behind in our work? That needy child tugged at our sleeve, but we sent him or her away?

Moments like these may not come our way again, so we have to pay attention to them. Scheduling can be a virtue but not to the exclusion of hearing another person’s cry for help. Attempting to comfort a child may be much harder than programming a computer.

The only way to live our highest aspirations is to see them as invitations to practice virtue. Then there will be a growing unity between the essential characteristics of Christian living and their effects on our day-to-day actions.

The more we come to appreciate the richness of the ordinary, the more virtues illumine our temporal concerns. We place routines in their proper perspective in relation to our central goal: to seek first the kingdom of God to which all other goods shall be added (see Luke 12:31).

Day after day the Holy Spirit enkindles in us the fire of love and replaces our fears with faith, our doubts with trust. We say what we mean and we mean what we say. We become radiant witnesses to the virtues lived by Jesus and outlined in scripture passages that proclaim: …the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22).

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