ColumnsNaming Grace

Shining like stars

“She was such a light!” Sister Michelle’s bright blue eyes always twinkle, but they became even more animated as she spoke about her second-grade student Veronica. After 40-plus years of teaching thousands of students, Veronica stood out. “There was just something about her. Yes, she was cute, just like any other little 8-year-old girl, but there was something more — there was a radiance about her. She shined as she treated each classmate with kindness.” Sr. Michelle continued, “Then one day, as Veronica’s mother was picking her up from school, I asked, ‘What have you done to make Veronica so kind, so caring — such a light?’ Her mother quiet­ly responded, ‘Really, the only thing I can think of, is that every morning I say, Veronica, you are such a gift from God.’” Sister Michelle’s dimples deepened, as her Irish smile grew wider, “That was it!” Even at her tender age, Veronica’s light radiated Christ’s luminous presence; she understood herself as a gift and lived as an imitator of Christ, fully awake to the needs of those around her.

The Transfiguration recounts Jesus’ luminous presence on the mountaintop. As Jesus prayed, his face changed in appearance and his clothes became dazzling white, revealing his glory to Peter, James and John. Etched in the apostles’ minds, the vision of Jesus would light the way toward Jerusalem, through the cross to his resurrection. Two thousand years later, our mission continues to be bringing Jesus’ glorious presence and hope to a hurting world — leading others through their crosses into new life.

In Christ, we stand as beacons of light to those in our homes, neighborhoods and cities. Henri Nouwen writes that our main task as Christians “is to point to the signs of the Kingdom to come, to speak about the first rays of the day of God … to focus on the eternal that lights up in the midst of the temporal.” When life becomes dull, difficult or dim, we easily forget the eternal — his luminous presence — and feel stuck in the mud, bound by the earth. Yet minds and hearts, blanketed in darkness or frightened by the future, need only to turn and “listen to him.” We will then regain our eternal perspective and again become his shimmering presence in the world.

Our deep desire is for our children and grandchildren to radiate Christ’s presence in the world, to shine like stars, at all times and in any situation. We name grace — God’s luminous presence — by reminding each child that he or she is a gift from God, anointed to be his light in the world. We name grace by guiding our children in not being preoccupied with earthly things, bogged down by daily concerns (especially of trying to fit in), but to see all things through eternity as citizens of heaven. We help our children to listen to the voice of God in prayer and silence and then to offer his light to others.

Christians are to shine like stars, radiating Christ’s luminous presence by easing suffering, tending needs and bringing hope. Veronica’s care brought light to the classroom, as all Christians are to shine in all places and all times. Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, pray for us to radiate your son’s love in the world, now and forever. Amen. Now, that’s good news!

How will you help your child to shine?

Where do you need to shine Christ’s light?

 Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent. To read more about God’s grace in everyday life: