Throughout this bicentennial year of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, I have urged members of our local Church to radiate Christ. Far more than just a slogan, this is a call to conversion and action. Articles in this issue of The Catholic Telegraph profile individuals who have answered that call in significant ways.
To radiate Christ means to be a joyful witness to the Lord, and to do so wherever and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. In some ways, this is a tall order. Fortunately, God has empowered us for this mission by baptismal grace and by the particular gifts and talents He has given each of us. God also has given us the Church so we have the love and support of other Christians to strengthen our faith and give us courage.
The examples of fellow Catholics of our archdiocese radiating Christ that you will find in this magazine, therefore, should encourage, inspire and motivate you. However, your own opportunity to witness the Lord in your sphere may be very different from theirs. We each have a unique place in the Church and in God’s creative plan. And our local Church will only be the instrument God intends if each of us seeks the face of the Lord, is converted to Him and allows Jesus to work through us – in short, if we radiate Christ.
At the same time, the broader community the archdiocese serves will never be what God intends it to be without Christian believers being “salt and light” to our hurting world (Mt. 5:13-14). Wherever you are, Christ should be there through you. That means radiating Christ by your behavior in meeting rooms, on the construction site or while waiting tables; in the doctor’s office, in the grocery checkout line and at your bank; and in encounters with people of difference races, religions and political persuasions.
It is perhaps particularly important at this moment in American history to radiate Christ in the public square, where our national dialogue today is marked not only by radically different worldviews, but by incivility, nastiness and even destruction of property and lives. It is natural to blame our political leaders for this sad state of affairs, but we all have a role to play in making ours a more civil society by the way we treat those with whom we disagree.
This is a daily, undramatic undertaking. We can look to St. Joseph, the patron of the Church, as an exemplar of one who radiated Christ in a quiet way in his everyday life. He did so by seeking and following God’s will, as Christ did, no matter how difficult for him. “St. Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation,” Pope Francis wrote in his apostolic letter Patris Corde.
Before we radiate Christ, however, we must know Him. That is why in my pastoral letter, Radiate Christ, I invite you to strengthen your relationship with the Lord through prayer, an openness to God’s plan for you and frequent reception of the Eucharist as the center of your spiritual life. All of this requires the most precious commodity we have – time. Like all our gifts, however, time comes from God, and it is only right that we give some of it back to Him while getting to better know His Son.
Living in intimate relationship with Jesus Christ promises us peace, joy and the fullness of life here on earth as a taste of the life to come. And when we have that ourselves, then we can share it with others by making the decision to radiate Christ. It is my hope that we continue to focus on this mission and this challenge well beyond this bicentennial year of our archdiocese.