February 9, 2020
Dear Followers of Jesus,
Today’s gospel, Matthew 5:13-16, is short and familiar. However, it is full of challenge and hope for us as believers. We listen to Jesus say to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world…”
At first glance, we may think we are mistaken. We may believe that Jesus is saying to us that he is the light of the world and that he is the salt of the earth. However, that is not his intention. He says to us that we are the salt of the earth and we are the light of the world.
This gospel helps us live the Christian life. Our lives matter to the world. Every life matters on the earth. Our baptism is not for us alone, it is not just for our personal salvation. We belong to him on earth and our responsibility is to find a way into the richness of his life so that we can live for others.
One of the essential messages of Vatican II was to bring a new dignity to our lives as the baptized. We have inherited the gift of the Holy Spirit within our hearts. God is with us no matter what. We have a responsibility on earth that comes from Jesus to live a life that is beyond our selfishness, beyond our own weariness, beyond our own egos. We are challenged to proclaim to the world that God is invested in the human condition through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit beginning from our baptism. The Church is not fortress to protect; it is about people who reveal to the world the dignity of all human life. We are salt and light, not people whom self protect from the complexities of life.
Sometimes we get caught thinking that baptism is our ticket to heaven and we don’t have to worry about the other guy. “I have mine and he should pull himself up by his own bootstraps and get his act together”. This happens especially when we become so divided in our world, in our nation, and even within our own families. One remedy to such divisive thinking is to ponder Jesus’ words today that we are light and salt. Our gifts, our talents and our faith are intertwined with others. We belong to God in baptism and we also belong to one another.
It is difficult to surrender to such an idea that we are salt and light when the issues of our Church and world seem to be out of our control. For example, the clerical sex crimes and cover-ups simply wear us down. In fact, we don’t want to be part of the Church when we hear of such sin and corruption. However, our belief in Christ Jesus is never easy. Our responsibility is to turn salt and light in to prophecy and justice. Salt does not just sit on the table. It must become an active ingredient to change lives, to become hope for other people. Light is not just to illumine our own journey, but we must lead others out of the dark.
We are challenged not to put our light under a bushel basket or hide it in our selfishness. People will be drawn to the light when it is consistent, warm and inviting. People will be drawn to our hearts when they see a new trust and gentleness that comes from God. How shall we allow our lights to reveal a new path of healing for our world?
Peace and all good,