I live in a zone of overlapping radio waves. Two stations, K-Love, Christian radio and National Public Radio, both broadcast at 91.1 FM. Because of my geographic location, these two stations from polar opposite ends of the cultural spectrum fade in and out of one another producing paradoxically hilarious audio programing as I drive around my town.
Yesterday, for example, I was tuned into K-Love and singing along to Michael Card’s upbeat worship song, “You are the Light of the World.” Without warning, a monotone NPR reporter with a clipped British accent interrupted my singing by introducing a new author for teenagers who he said “has become a symbol of rebellion because she does not hold back on the violence in her books and does not apologize for it. ‘Violence is a part of the cauldron of their lives,’” said the reporter quoting the supposedly rebellious author. Before I could get the author’s name, Michael Card’s worship song was back. It was like there was this airwave battle between hope and despair going on right inside my radio.
Now, I wouldn’t say this if I weren’t guilty of the charge myself sometimes, but when it comes to being a hopeful, evangelistic voice of authentic faith in the real world of NPR-style monologues trying to mollify our standards, we Catholics can be such wimps and wallflowers. We’re too polite. Or is it that I, personally, am too afraid of conflict? It would seem that many of us are more concerned about temporarily offending someone than we are about their eternal salvation.
Now, I’m not suggesting that each of us needs to get a soapbox or a radio station, nor that we need to drop God’s name into every sentence possible. However, just as it is that around my house where K-Love and NPR share the same radio frequency, we Catholics who live in the United States share with non-Catholics the same constitutional right to freedom of speech. The question is, do we love Jesus enough to exercise that right prudently, frequently, and out of love for those who have not understood Jesus message of salvation? More importantly as Catholic parents, do we realize that our children are listening to our silence and learning how not important our faith is when we, oh, so politely allow everyone else to broadcast neutral or anti-Catholic opinions 24/7 without interruption?
It is time for us to speak up for and about our faith in public, and not just for the sake of others, but also as a matter of good Catholic parenting. As we learn to speak up, the Gospels give us three helpful images of what we are to be in our world. These images are salt, light, and leaven (Matthew 5:13-16; 13:3). Remembering these three can help us determine positive ways to be authentic voices for God.
Salt. Salt enhances flavor. Salt is from the earth. We can be salt by empathizing with the earthy, bland, or yucky parts of life, at the same time that we also emphasize that despite our human condition here, God truly loves us and the Holy Spirit’s presence here on earth really does enhance our life and give it “flavor”.
Light. Light illuminates. We can be light by shining a verbal spotlight on the positive aspects of something instead of joining in a pity party, and by highlighting love and truth instead of violence and lies. We can let in more verbal light by eliminating the darkness of foul language and crass or racist humor.
Leaven. Leaven elevates everything around itself. We can be leaven by greeting others with uplifting terms of endearment and encouraging words, and by offering to pray with and for them. Good, clean humor levitates any conversation.
When it comes to becoming more vocal about God’s love, it doesn’t matter if we get interrupted or are only heard in snippets. It’s only natural because we share the same world with non-believers just like K-Love and NPR share the same radio frequency near my house. If, however, we will be salt, light, and leaven in our shared world, I believe non-believers and our own children alike will fiddle with their moral dials, looking more and more often to tune into our frequency, which is in fact God’s frequency broadcasting his love for them 24/7.
Copyright 2015 Heidi Bratton
Image copyright Heidi Bratton, all rights reserved