By Fr. Brendan McGuire
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 30, 2015
I recently read a book called “Nudge” by Leonard Sweet. He talks about how our role, as Christians, is to be constant evangelists for the message of Christ. The methodology he suggests is to “nudge” others towards Christ —not to push or demand —but gently nudge others by what we say but even more so by what we do.
He goes on to say that we nudge people one way or the other with what we do and say, for good or bad. Sometimes when we use unpleasant words, we might nudge people away from Christ. When we go about our daily lives, we might think our behaviors are innocuous or irrelevant, but he suggests that those are nudges in a certain direction as well. If we can be deliberate about what we chose to do, such as being kind, gentle, forgiving and loving then we nudge people ever closer to Christ.1
He would suggest that no action is too small. No person is too small to be an evangelist. Even a young child, who acts out of kindness and goodness, can nudge somebody towards Christ just by what they say and how they do it.
Sweet uses the great metaphor of Christians being like musical instruments. The challenge, he says, with musical instruments is that they have to be re-tuned before every use. No matter whether it is a grade-school recital or a philharmonic symphony, before the musicians play the instruments, each musician will always finely re-tune the sound of their instrument.
When we are baptized, we are not tuned for life! We must find time to re-tune our souls to the sound of the Spirit. When we take the time to re-tune, we then can play the music of life even more sweetly. He suggests a critical component of that process is doing acts of kindness and acts of justice —when we do good for others, we play the instrument to produce music. It is the very thing that St. James speaks about in Sunday’s reading. We must be more than just hearers of the Word; we must be doers of the Word. We must take time to re-tune our souls to the sound of the Spirit. And we do that in prayer.
It is not a one-time thing! When we do it on Sunday, we are not done for the whole week. We must take time each and every day to fine tune our souls to the sound of the Spirit. Then we can bring the music to others. We do that by nudging people ever so gently, ever so carefully towards Christ. If we do these things we will avoid being the people in today’s Gospel—the Pharisees and the Scribes —who were just doing outwards symbols or acts of piety. Christ is more interested in what comes from within.
Today, we chose to re-tune ourselves, to listen to Christ and his Spirit and then to nudge others towards Christ through our actions.
(Endnotes) 1 Leonard Sweet, “Nudge,” (David C. Cook Publishers, 2005)