I was taking a train a week or so ago to go and visit my father in Pennsylvania, and a group of young adults came and sat in the area around me. They had the piercings and all the popular styles that twenty-somethings have, on a party trip it seemed to me, and they were speaking in a foreign language. They kept to themselves, but one of the young women sat next to me.
So after a brief greeting, I asked her what language she and her friends were speaking. She said, “Hebrew. We are from Israel.” Oh, that’s great, I said.
Now, I am very excited. I don’t know Hebrew, but I have a great love for the language, because of my love for Scripture and I have it in my head that it’s got its roots in God. The relationship of God with His chosen people formed the language.
So, I’m all excited and I tell her that I would love to learn some Hebrew someday. She’s probably thinking either I’m a bit odd or I’m using a cheesy pickup line (alright, probably both). But I’m excited just to listen to them talk.
So anyway, she puts out a container of pastries and offers me some. “They’re kosher.” So, I have a kosher pastry and start to tell her that I’d like to learn the Hebrew some day because I read the Bible and I am studying to be a Catholic priest.
Now, I’m all excited, because here is an Israelite, and I have a Bible, and, well, when I tell her a little bit about it, she gets curious and wants to see it. It’s the first Christian Bible she has ever seen.
I asked her if she reads the Hebrew Bible. “Oh, I gave up my religion a long time ago.” But she’s fascinated and asks to look at the Bible.
I give her the Bible and she says, “We’re not supposed to look at the New Testament.” So, I said, “Oh, no, I wouldn’t want you to do something that you’re not comfortable with. I think it’s important for everyone to know their own roots.” So she’s practically speechless looking at the Old Testament, reading the names of the books and recognizing them.
So then, I broke out the computer. On my computer I have the Scripture in the original languages, and, see, I’m still just all excited, and now we’ve got the Old Testament opened up and the original Hebrew going and she’s reading and recognizing, we’re both amazed. I can’t read a word of it, but she recognizes everything.
OK, as if I’m not bananas enough, I take out an icon of the Blessed Virgin that I always carry with me, and show it to her. “I even keep an image of a Hebrew woman in my pocket.”
Next, – I’m not through – I show her the breviary with all the Psalms in it. “I love the Psalms. We pray the Psalms every day in the Church.” “Oh, you mean the songs of David.” Yes. I show her. Amazed.
Then, she looks around as if to see if any of her friends are looking. She subtly opens up her bag and reaches in and in half a moment pulls out a little book. A book of Psalms, in Hebrew. “I pray these every day.” “I thought you gave up your religion?” “When I came here, I missed my roots. I want to get back to my roots.”
I see greatness in her, I have so much respect for her and her roots and her people. It’s obvious, isn’t it, and no one can tell me she’s ever had an experience where a stranger has taken out a Bible, a computer, a prayer book, and an icon out of admiration for her Hebrew roots.
Then she said something. “You know, back home, we are told that all Christians hate us.”
Then I saw it. Just then I could see it.
I could see that that lie that had probably formed a big part of her outlook on her life and herself, that lie that probably built walls in her life and cut her off from many relationships, that lie had been broken to pieces.
“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you.” (Lk 10:18-19)
I was shining my light.
The Lord sent out His disciples to do great things. But there was only one thing He was asking them to do: let their light shine.
I don’t know much about politics in the Middle East, but I’m going to bet that if there is ever going to be peace, if ever that big wall that the Israelis are building is ever going to come down, it will be when Christians simply shine their light.
When we give our witness for our love for God and our neighbor, when we don’t hold back, we have His own authority over all the lies and division in the world, and that darkness in the culture, the world, the home, the workplace, wherever it is, it can’t hurt us.
Don’t be afraid to let your light shine.
“Is a light brought in to be put under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light.” (Mk 4:21-22)