Be A Light In The Workplace

As Christians, we are called to witness to the Gospel not just for one hour on Sundays at Church, but throughout our whole lives:  at work, at play, alone or in the company of others.  Jesus instructs us: let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.  (Matthew 4:16)

I made a home visit for the first time to patient X.  This person lost a spouse 4 years ago and was now living alone in a big house.  After my initial nursing assessment, I proceeded to provide the needed foot care.  As I worked, we carried on a conversation, just small talk to pass the time.  I asked X about the spouse who died.  The story  was typical of what happens when a spouse develops Alzheimer’s disease.  Although it had been a few years since the spouse’s death, X began to cry as the story unfolded.

After a period of quiet sobbing, X asked, “Are you Catholic?”

“I am,” I answered.

We talked a little more about many things while I continued with my work.  Although a very active senior, it became clear that X was lonely and struggling.  As I was leaving, X stopped me at the front door.

“I want to ask you something,” X suddenly blurted.  “I still go to communion but I haven’t been to confession in 40 years.  Is that wrong?”

“I think going to confession would be a very good idea,” I answered gently.  “You’ve been away from it for too long.  But it would be best to phone your priest and make an appointment.  You’ll have a lot to talk about.”

“But I know my sins.  I can just tell him quickly.”  I can only call what happened next a confession.  X proceeded to recount a list of unconfessed sins, many of which broke one or more of the 10 Commandments.

By now, I was running late but felt compelled to stay and listen.  Again, I urged X to call the parish priest and make an appointment for confession.  I reassured and explained the need to confess.  My patient nodded but time will tell if an appointment with the parish priest will be arranged.

The incident with X stayed with me all morning.  What the heck, God?  What was that all about? Last time I checked, I can’t be a priest so why is this person telling me their sins?   During a break in my day, I stopped at the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel.  There were a few people for whom I intended to pray but I found myself offering all my prayers for X.  The morning’s encounter greatly affected me.

I remember a long time ago, my spiritual director instructed me that because of the nature of my work, I must always try to be mindful of the Visitation where Mary, who was pregnant, visited her cousin Elizabeth and the child in her womb, John, leapt for joy.  Like Mary, Wise Friend explained, I am called to bring Jesus to my patients when I visit them in their homes.

Last week, I set aside my usual organized efficiency because someone needed nursing of another kind – nursing of the soul.  Last week, I heeded the Holy Spirit.  But how many times have I purposely ignored the prompting of the Spirit in order to get the job done?  How often have I let best practice guidelines and a hectic schedule govern my work day to the point where I haven’t been a light for others;  where I didn’t let Jesus come with me for the visit?

A good friend who’s a priest once told me that in order to love people, we have to meet them where they’re at.  That includes our colleagues, patients, customers, students…….the people we encounter each day at work.  No wrath of God proclamations or judgements, just calm acceptance of the person as our brother and sister in Christ and an openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our relationships.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with maintaining the highest degree of standards or striving to do our duties well.  God demands that too.  But our professional performance shouldn’t exclude the commandment to love each other as ourselves.   As Christians, we are called to be more than valued professionals.  As Wise Friend directed, we must all bring Jesus to the workplace.  By our daily actions and sometimes with our words, we are called to witness and evangelize.  That means we are to live the Gospel even at work so as to radiate His light to those around us.

Deo Gratias

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14 Responses to Be A Light In The Workplace

  1. More and more I recall that Jesus instructed his disciples to preach repentance. Without repentance there can be no conversion, without conversion the seed of the gospel falls on shallow ground and cannot take root.

    God gave us the sacraments for our benefit, not his. God is forever running up to meet us with his inexhaustible mercy — just as, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father ran to his son ‘when he was still a long way off’.

    God already knows X’s sins are forgiven. The sacrament is given to strengthen X’s faith in what God already knows.

    You’re witnessing, and you’re witnessing with faith. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a blessing!

    Peace,

    Paul

  2. reinkat says:

    What a beautiful story! So often what people need so much is for someone to listen and care, and you were Christ for this person. I am glad you took time to listen, both to the Holy Spirit and to this lonely soul.
    It is hard to be a light in the workplace. Thank you for the reminder about it. Even when surrounded with people in a busy workplace, you can find a way to be present to others even if for a minute. I like what your priest friend said, about meeting people where they are. Sometimes I get this bizarre idea that I need to convince them. Not so. To accept without judgement, that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, on our own journey, is to obey the promptings of the Spirit with wisdom and love.

  3. What an important visit!! What a privilege. What a blessing.
    I find the story of the Visitation so inspiring that I took the name of St Elizabeth at my Confirmation, because of the role she played in listening to and supporting Our Lady at such an important time of her life. I aspire to be like her in my life.
    Thank you.

  4. lilyboat says:

    I will remember your words when I go into work today. Your post inspired me to write a thank you letter to an old friend of mine this morning! She was my light when things were tough and provided nurture and care when I felt extreme sense of isolation and detachment. I think that’s the kind of light you offered her on that visit.. what a blessing!

  5. Mr. V. says:

    Thanks for this post. As the other commenters wrote, it is a beautiful story. And it’s a reminder of the importance of being patient and kind with others. Somebody else could very well have politely but firmly cut the patient off, and have ended up discouraging X from doing what X needed to do spiritually.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Biltrix says:

    Compelling story. I hope X will be moved to call the pastor and arrange to go to confession. I liked the advice your SD gave you about the Visitation.

    I find it odd — this has happened to me more than once — that people who have their reservations about confessing their sins to a priest will come out and say just about all their sins to a lay person and admit that they know they have sinned and they are sorry. The next step… Say what you just said to me to a priest and he can give you absolution. There is great peace of soul that comes with that.

    But I suppose opening up to a layperson is a step they feel they need to take. We can plant seeds and nudge them in the right direction, as a friend, or as you said, a brother or sister.

    Thanks for sharing this. God bless!

  7. This is so enlightening.

  8. lesliesholly says:

    This is lovely. I look forward to exploring more of your blog.

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