Pope Francis on “salt & light” https://saltandlighttv.org/blogfeed/getpost.php?id=70453)
Introduction: The common theme of today’s three readings is our two-fold mission to the world, to be salt and to be the light of a city built on a hilltop. (You may add one anecdote)
Scripture lessons summarized: In our first reading, the Lord God through His prophet Isaiah gives us examples of how we are to allow the light of God to shine through us. “Share your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday” (58:7, 10). The refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps.112), reminds us, “The just man is a light in the darkness to the upright.” St. Paul, in the second reading, tells us that our proclamation of Faith will carry the Spirit and His power when we rely on the power and wisdom of God. Using two simple metaphors of salt and the light of a city on a mountain in today’s Gospel, Jesus outlines the role of Christians in this world. As a symbol of purity, salt was the common ingredient in sacrifices offered to God by Jews and pagans. In the ancient world, salt was the commonest of all preservatives, used to prevent the putrefaction of meat, fish and fruits in pickles. Salt lends flavor to food items and was used to season and preserve food. A light is something which is meant to be seen. A lamp or light is a guide to make clear the way. A light serves also as a warning (e.g., red traffic lights which tell us to halt when there is danger ahead. Finally, light, particularly the sun’s, gives warmth and heat. (Check exegesis for details)
Life messages:1) We need to be the salt of the earth: a) As salt is a symbol of purity, used in sacrifices, the Christian must be an example of purity in speech, in conduct, and even in thought. b) As salt is an antiseptic and healing agent, the Christian must have a certain antiseptic influence on life and society, defeating corruption, fighting against injustice and making it easier for others to avoid sin. c) As salt preserves foods, we need to preserve the religious Faith, Christian cultural values, and moral principles which Jesus has given us, and to work at reconciling quarreling factions in families and communities. d) As salt is a food-flavoring agent , we need to add flavor to the lives of desperate people through outreach programs, which give meaning to their lives, boost their morale, offer them occasions to help others, and provide hope where there is none.
2) We need to be the light of the world: The second role of Christians is to receive the light of Christ and radiate it to everyone as love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, humble service, respect for those with different ethnic backgrounds, different lifestyles, other faiths, or with no faith at all. As guiding light in darkness, our duty is to show the correct and safe way and illuminate it with Christ’s Light, thus removing the darkness caused by hatred, prejudice, spite and jealousy. As a warning light, it is the Christian’s duty to give timely and loving warning of physical and moral danger to fellow Christians.
Full Text: OT V [A] (Feb 9): Is 58:7-10; I Cor 2:1-5; Mt 5: 13-16
Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: Salt of the earth and the light of the world:The story of EWTN is the story of a brave woman who had the courage of her conviction that she should be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Mother Angelica (who died in 2016), started broadcasting Catholic TV for just a few hours a day in 1981 from the garage of her Poor Clare Monastery in the US. The project grew and grew, and now, after thirty-nine years, the Eternal Word Television Network is available twenty-four hours a day all over the world by cable and satellite. Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (AG-nes GOHN-jah BOY-yah-jee-oo) born to Albanian parents in Yugoslavia, joined the Loreto Order of nuns, studied English in their Mother House in Dublin, Ireland and went to India in 1929 as missionary teacher. After 17 years, she received her ‘call within a call’ to work with the poorest of the poor, received permission to leave the Loreto order, started caring the sick and dying in a small house and founded the Missionaries of Charity. From this simple beginning, the Missionaries of Charity have grown to include 4,500 Sisters and Brothers, 755 homes for the children, the sick, the destitute and the dying and 1,369 medical clinics that serve 120,000 worldwide.” St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the founder of the Sisters of Charity, began the American system of Catholic education, which today (2011) includes over 7,000 elementary and secondary schools throughout the United States. St. Jeanne Jugan ((Sr. Mary of the cross), the foundress if the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor became the salt & light by taking a blind, old woman and a 17-year old orphan teenager to her cottage in France, and beginning a prayer community of care giving. Today, over 2,500 Little Sisters serve 13,000 elderly residents in 195 homes worldwide. • Thirty of these homes are in the United States.
#2: Salt and light: The story of EWTN is the story of a brave woman who had the courage of her conviction that she should be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Mother Angelica (who died in 2016), started broadcasting Catholic TV for just a few hours a day in 1981 from the garage of her Poor Clare Monastery in the US. The project grew and grew, and now, after thirty-nine years, the Eternal Word Television Network is available twenty-four hours a day all over the world by cable and satellite. Mother Angelica is an example of a true Christian living out her Faith as salt to preserve Christian values and to provide the modern world with a purifying mass medium. She kept putting her lamp on the lampstand so that Christ’s Light would shine for everyone in the modern global village. With the death of Mother Angelica on Easter Sunday, the Church has lost the most charismatic American Catholic media personality of her time, as well as someone who proved beyond any doubt that a determined and savvy woman can, after all, wield real power. For much of the 1980s and 1990s, she was simply the most riveting Catholic figure on the airwaves. She was a simple nun, with a profound Faith, and one courageously dependent upon God’s grace to supply what was needed. Her life and deeds were miraculous. Mother Angelica regularly attributed the success of EWTN to God’s providence, but the history of the operation reveals savvy business decisions that helped “this miracle of God” to become the multi-million-dollar global media conglomerate it is today. That those decisions were made by a woman without much previous power in the Church is notable.
# 3: Blessed Mother Teresa’s salt and light: David Porter writes on Mother Teresa: “She was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (AG-nes GOHN-jah BOY-yah-jee-oo), to Albanian parents in Yugoslavia. . She went to India in 1929 as a member of the Loreto Order of nuns, after learning English in their Motherhouse in Dublin Ireland. There, she taught for many years and became principal of the school. In 1946, she received her ‘call within a call’ to work with the poorest of the poor. By 1948, she had received permission to leave the Loreto order and had trained in the nursing skills she would need to carry out her calling. She prayed, “Oh God, if I cannot help these people in their poverty and their suffering, let me at least die with them, close to them, so that I can show them your love” [Mother Teresa: The Early Years, 67; cited by Caroline J. Simon, “The Media and Mother Teresa,” Perspectives, 12 (March, 1997), 3.] Simon notes: “From this simple beginning, the Missionaries of Charity have grown to include 4,500 Sisters and Brothers, 755 homes for the children, the sick, the destitute and the dying and 1,369 medical clinics that serve 120,000 worldwide.” We too can become the salt of the earth and the light of the world as Mother Teresa did.
#4: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton: Getting Closer to God Means Serving Others: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, had a long and difficult journey into the Catholic faith. She lived around 1800 and was part of New York high society both by birth and also by marriage. As a young wife and mother, she felt a profound spiritual restlessness. A non-Catholic Christian, she longed for a deeper relationship with Christ, but didn’t know where to find it. A series of Crosses, including her husband’s death, led her to the Catholic Church, where she found what she was looking for in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Converting to Catholicism led her to be criticized and ostracized by friends, social circles, and even family members. But her deeper intimacy with Christ made the suffering worthwhile. Instead of falling into discouragement or self-pity, in fact, she found herself moved to start a new religious order dedicated to educating the young. Thus, was born the Sisters of Charity, which now has five major divisions in the United States and Canada. And thus, also began the American system of Catholic education, which today (2011) includes over 7,000 elementary and secondary schools throughout the United States. God wants to bring flavor and light to the world, and the closer we get to his Sacred Heart, the more our hearts will burn with that same desire. [Information for this Illustration was garnered from Fr. Charles P. Connor’s “Classic Catholic Converts.”] (E- Priest).
# 4: Is your salt salty and your light shining? If you doubt your light matters, take this little quiz: 1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world. 2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners. 3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America Pageant. Do you know all these answers? Probably not. Ask yourself some additional questions: 1. Who fed and clothed you when you were helpless? 2. What was the name of your 1st grade teacher? 3. Who is the first friend you would call in an emergency? You do know the answers to these questions. They are the salt and light of the world.
Introduction: The common theme of the readings today is our mission to the world as salt and light.
Scripture lessons summarized: In our first reading, the prophet Isaiah gives examples of how we are to allow the light of God to shine through us. “Share your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday” (58:7, 10). The refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps.112), reminds us, “The just man is a light in the darkness to the upright.” The verses explain that “light” as graciousness, mercy, and justice in dealing with other people. St. Paul, in the second reading, tells us that our proclamation of Faith will carry the Spirit and His power when we rely on the power and wisdom of God. Using two simple metaphors in today’s Gospel, Jesus outlines the role of Christians in this world. The Christian’s task is to be the salt of society, preserving, reconciling, adding flavor, giving meaning where there is no meaning and giving hope where there is no hope. Every Christian needs to reflect the light borrowed from Christ and radiate that light in the form of love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness and humble service.
The first reading explained (Is 58:7-10): The exiles who returned from Babylon had hoped for a quick restoration of their beloved capital Jerusalem, but completion of that project was frustratingly slow. The people wondered why their suffering was so prolonged, and the prophet Isaiah told them that the main problem was their unwillingness to share God’s blessings with others. Hence, the prophet gives examples of how they were to allow the light of God to shine through them: “Share your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday” (58:7, 10). The Prophet Isaiah speaks in terms of justice and compassionate care for the weak, needy and vulnerable because it is through them that the very goodness of God is revealed, and the disciple’s light will shine like the dawn. Alleviating the suffering of the oppressed and tending to the needs of others are the activities which produce light. It is by avoiding malice and by satisfying the afflicted, that we enable others to see and experience the light of the Lord’s favor. Today’s Gospel also reminds us of our duty to become salt and light and tells us that the best means to do so is by sharing our blessings sacrificially with others. The Responsorial Psalm corroborates this, saying “The just person is a light in darkness to the upright.” The psalmist’s assertion, “The Lord is my light,” is echoed in Jesus’ words “I am the Light of the world; the man who follows me will have the Light of Life.”
The second reading explained (I Cor 2:1-5): St. Paul learned his lesson from Athens that his human eloquence did not help his missionary work. Hence, in Corinth Paul says that he chose not to rely on human eloquence, “so that your Faith might rest, not on human wisdom, but on the power of God.” So, Paul started preaching only on Christ crucified in Corinth and instructed the intellectuals in Corinth to learn the lesson of self-sacrifice from the crucified Christ. When Paul persisted in preaching Jesus as the suffering Savior, the unexpected happened. Pagans, as well as Jews and God-fearers believed the message and found their lives transformed by a new, liberating power, which broke the stranglehold of selfishness and vice and purified them from within. St. Paul’s experience teaches us that when we start doing good to others, even if it costs us suffering and death, it will demonstrate God’s Spirit and power, and we will become the salt of the earth and the light of the world that Jesus challenges us to become in today’s Gospel.
Gospel exegesis: The salt of the earth: In the ancient world salt was highly valued. The Greeks called salt divine, and the Romans said, “There is nothing more useful than sun and salt.” The English word “salary” literally means “salt money.” In the time of Jesus, salt was connected in people’s minds with three special qualities. (i) Salt was connected with purity because it was white and it came from the purest of all things, the sun and the sea. Salt was the most primitive of all offerings to the gods. Jewish sacrifices were offered with salt. The Orientals made their oaths with salt to ratify them. They believed that it was the salt that kept the seas pure. As the “salt of the earth,” the Christian must be an example of purity, exercising absolute purity in speech, in conduct, and even in thought. God calls His children to preserve and purify. The Church is to preserve modesty (1 Tm 2:9), morality (Eph 5:3-12), honesty and integrity (Jn 8:44-47).
(ii) Salt was the commonest of all preservatives in the ancient world when people did not have fridges and freezers. It was used to prevent the putrefaction of meat, fish, fruits and pickles. As the salt of the earth, the Christian must have a certain antiseptic influence on life and society, defeating corruption and making it easier for others to be good. Christians are to be a preserving influence to retard moral and spiritual spoilage in the world. “As the salt of the earth, you are called to preserve the Faith which you have received and to pass it on intact to others. Your generation is being challenged in a special way to keep safe the deposit of Faith.”(Youth Day- 2002 Message by Pope St. John Paul II).
(iii) Salt lends flavor to food items. Job declares, “food without salt is a sadly insipid and even a sickening thing” (Job 6:6-7). One of the main functions of salt is to season food, to give it taste and flavor. This image reminds us that, through Baptism, our whole being has been profoundly changed, because it has been “seasoned” with the new Life which comes from Christ (cf. Rom 6:4). ‘The salt which keeps our Christian identity intact even in a very secularized world is the grace of Baptism” (Youth Day- 2002 Message by Pope St. John Paul II). Christianity lends flavor to life, although people think the opposite about us. In a worried and depressed world, the Christian should be the one man who remains full of the joy of life, conveying it to others. It is our duty to make the world palatable (bearable), not just to others but also to God so that He can, so to speak, continue to bear with it, in spite of its “distasteful” wickedness. To be the salt of society also means that we are deeply concerned with its well-being. We have to preserve the cultural values and moral principles Jesus has given us, and in this way to make a contribution to the development of cultural and social life. Thus, we will be adding flavor to the common life. As salt seasoned and preserved food, and as it kept a fire burning uniformly in an oven for a longer time, the disciples were to improve the tone of society (“season” it), preserve the Faith, and extend the fire of the Spirit through their evangelization efforts.
Are we insipid salt? Jesus went on to say that, if salt became insipid, it was fit only to be thrown out and trodden on by men. Usually salt does not lose its flavor and its saltiness. But when mixed with impurities, salt can lose its ability to enhance flavor. We, too, might lose our ability to be a “flavoring agent” for the world if we allow “impurities” into our lives (1 Cor 15:33). Therefore, we need to keep ourselves free from sin (Eph 5:3-7). Blocks of cow dung, mixed with salt and other animal manure and dried in the sun, served as fuel for outdoor ovens in the time of Jesus. When the fuel paddies were lit in an oven, the mixed-in salt would help the paddies burn longer, with a more even heat. When the family spent the salt-dung block, they would throw it out onto the road to harden a muddy surface. As the salt of the earth, the Christians keep the fire of Faith alive even under stress. If Christian “salt” loses its “flavor,” its “uselessness” invites disaster. If a Christian is not fulfilling his purpose as a Christian, if he or she does not bring to life the purity, the antiseptic power, and the flavor of salt, then he or she invites disaster. His, or hers, is the fate of the repentant and returned apostate Jew in the Jewish community and the repentant apostate in the early Church. As penance for this sin, each had to lie across the door of the synagogue or Church and invite people to trample upon him/her as they entered. Today, there is a new, non-irritating, brand of Christianity around. It is without offense and without effect. Ah, but dear friends, Jesus didn’t call us to be the “sugar of the world.” He called us to be the “salt of the earth.”
The light of the world: The metaphor of light is often used in the Bible. The Jews spoke of Jerusalem as “a light to the Gentiles.” But Jerusalem does not produce its own light. It is God who lights the lamp of Israel. Moreover, Jerusalem cannot hide its light. At the start of his ministry, St. Matthew portrays Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, namely, that he is ‘the great light’ that will disperse the shadow of death and the darkness of sin, that have enveloped the world. When Jesus commanded his followers to be the light of the world, he demanded nothing less than that they should be like him, the One who is be the Light of the world. “As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world” (Jn 9:5). Christ is the “true” or “original” Light (Jn 8:12). Citizens of the kingdom are simply “luminaries” reflecting the One True Light, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun (2 Cor 4:6). The radiance which shines from the Christian comes from the presence of Christ within the Christian’s heart as the radiance of a ‘radiant bride’ comes from the love in her heart. Christians are to be torchbearers in a dark world. We should not try to hide the light which God has lit in our lives. Rather, we should let it shine so that others may see our good deeds and praise God. St. Paul exhorts the Christians in Philippi “to be blameless and innocent in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world” (Phil 2: 15).
The role of Christians as Christ’s light of the world. (i) A light is something which is meant to be seen. (The lamp in Palestine was like a sauce-boat full of oil with a wick floating in it. When people went out, for safety’s sake they took the lamp from its stand and put it under an earthen bushel measure, so that it might burn without risk until they came back). Christians must be visible like a “city” on a hilltop and a lamp on a “lamp stand.” Jesus therefore expects His followers to be seen by the world (Jn 13:35; 17:21). In addition, they must radiate and give light. “Let your light shine before men” (Mt 5:16). By this metaphor Jesus means that our Christianity should be visible in the ordinary activities of the world, for example, in the way we treat a shop assistant across the counter, in the way we order a meal in a restaurant, in the way we treat our employees or serve our employer, in the way we play a game or drive or park a motor car, in the daily language we use, in the daily literature we read.
(ii) A lamp or light is a guide to make clear the way. So then, a Christian must make the way clear to others. That is to say, a Christian must of necessity be an example. “The light which Jesus speaks of in the Gospel is the light of Faith, God’s free gift, which enlightens the heart and clarifies the mind. It is the God who said, ‘Let Light shine out of darkness,’ Who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:6). Our personal encounter with Christ bathes life in new Light, sets us on the right path, and sends us out to be his witnesses.” (Youth Day message by Pope St. John Paul II). It is the Christian’s duty to take a stand which the weaker brother will support, to give the lead which those with less courage will follow. The world needs its guiding lights. There are people waiting and longing for a leader to take a stand and to do the thing which they do not dare by themselves.
iii) A light can often be a warning light. A light is often the warning which tells us to halt when there is danger ahead. It is sometimes the Christian’s duty to bring to his fellowmen a necessary warning. If our warnings are given, not in anger, not in irritation, not in criticism, not in condemnation, but in love, they may be effective.
iv) Light exposes everything hidden by darkness. (Note Jn 3:19; 1 Cor 4:5; Eph 5:8–11). When our teens, baptized and confirmed, get pregnant and do drugs at the same rate as the general teenage population; when our marriages end in divorce at the same rate as the rest of society; when we cheat in business, or lie, steal, and cheat on our spouses at the same statistical level as those who say they are not Christians — something is wrong. Let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves whether we are carrying the Light which can be seen, the Light which warns, the Light which guides. These are the Lights which God shines through our Christian living.
Life messages: 1) We need to act as salt and light by sharing in Christ’s ministry as priest, prophet, and king. As priest, Christ offered a sacrifice of love to the Father. What sacrifices of love do we offer to the Father? We can offer our married, single, or family life, work, outreach to others, and even relaxation along with our prayers and suffering to God. We can offer them at any time, but the best time is at Mass when we offer ourselves with Christ to the Father. As prophet, Christ proclaimed the Good News of salvation. He also calls us to evangelize others (both fellow-Catholics and non-Catholics), by word and example, at home and at work. We bear witness most effectively when others see the difference Christ has made in our lives, shining through us as the Light which can be seen, the Light which warns, and the Light which guides. Finally, as King, Christ became servant to all through His Self-giving. He also calls us to give of ourselves so the workplace and the home may become more humane. He calls us to serve in our parishes so they can grow and become more alive. He calls us to integrate our Christian Faith into our daily lives so that our service may be His service to others. So, we make a difference as Christians when we offer ourselves to God, when we proclaim the Good News in word and example, and when we serve others. God calls us to worship, to witness, and to give.
2) We need to live our short lives as traces of salt and candles of light: It only takes a sprinkling of salt to transform a dull and tasteless piece of meat. Just a little salt transforms everything. Just a pinch of soul-salt will add flavor to the lives of hundreds, or even thousands. Just as salt acts as a preservative and adds flavor to food, so the exemplary lives of Christians lend flavor to life by helping people to live correctly and by keeping society wholesome. Just a little light empties the world of darkness. With a little Faith and love we can light up a big social area. Does that encourage us? It should. We may think we’re insignificant – and in a way we are – but with a little bit of Christ, we become a veritable lighthouse, illuminating the way for many. This Christ-light removes the darkness caused by hatred, spite and jealousy. Our good deeds and actions reflect the image of Jesus, the light of the world. We can speak with kindness and respect, we can value ourselves, we can tell the truth and we can use our talents. We can listen and talk, we can engage in dialogue and we can come to know people of different ethnic backgrounds, people with different lifestyles and sexual preferences, people of other faiths and people of no faith – and this will bring the light of Christ to illumine and change the world. Salt is a hidden but powerful influence. Light is a visible and revealing influence. Jesus tells us that we are not only to be the salt of the earth but also the light of the world. We are called to make a tangible impact on the world around us. Does our life make a difference? It should. Jesus said we are to be salt and light. Does our life make a difference? It can, if we surrender ourselves to Christ. Does our life make a difference? If we live for Him, it will!
JOKE OF THE WEEK
Business is business: Angela was nearing 60 and was in her final year of teaching in the public school. She was a devout Christian who missed teaching from the Bible. Because she was worried about how little her class knew about religion, Angela decided she was going to disregard the new regulations and teach some religion. She told her class that she would run a contest. She would give £50 to whoever could tell her who the greatest man was who ever lived. Immediately Isaac a Jewish boy began to wave his hand, but Angela ignored him in favor of those in her Sunday school class. As she went around the room, Angela was disappointed with the answers she got. Jane, her best scholar, picked Noah because he saved all the animals. Others said, “I think the greatest man who ever lived was Alexander the Great because he conquered the whole world.” and “I think it was Thomas Edison, because he invented the light bulb.” Finally, she called on Isaac who still had his hand in the air. “I think the greatest man who ever lived was Jesus Christ.” said Isaac. Angela was shocked but still gave him the £50 reward. As she did so, she said, “Well, Isaac, I’m very surprised that you should be the only one with the right answer. How come?” “Well, to tell you the truth,” Isaac replied as he pocketed the money, “I think it was Moses, but business is business.”
USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK
- Focus On the Family: http://www.family.org/
- The Catholic Internet Directory: One of the most complete sources of Catholic information available on the Internet. A must visit! http://www.catholic-church.org/cid/
- Internet periodical of current Christian news: http://www.cruxnews.com/
- The Catholic Lectionary website (Dr. Felix Just) http://catholic-resources.org/Lectionary/
- “Traditional Mass lectionary”: http://catholic-resources.org/Lectionary/Roman_Missal.htm
- Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066
34- Additional anecdotes:
1) Your Faith rests not on the wisdom of men: During the Nazi era in Germany, one of the strongest Catholic leaders in the German Reich was Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber (1869-1952). An able Bible professor, he long taught courses on the Old Testament in the University of Strassburg. Then in 1911 he was named bishop of Speyer, and in 1917, Archbishop of Munich. Pope Benedict XV raised him to the rank of Cardinal in 1921. A few years after Faulhaber received the “red hat,” Adolf Hitler began to rise into power. The Cardinal held Hitler in little esteem. As a nobleman, he disdained this Austrian upstart; as a churchman he disapproved of his ideology. In the early 1930’s when Hitler’s Nazis began to peddle their deadly philosophy, the Cardinal boldly condemned racism, neo-paganism and totalitarianism from his cathedral pulpit, basing his sermons on the scriptures with which he was so familiar. Particularly notable was his Advent sermons of 1933, in which he emphasized that Christianity had its roots in Judaism. As an intellectual, Cardinal Faulhaber was also not at all uncomfortable in conversing, and even sparring, with other savants. There is a famous story of his chat with the great Nobel physicist – Jewish but agnostic -Albert Einstein (1879-1955). Einstein and the Cardinal met on one occasion, and during their conversation the scientist said: “I respect religion, but I believe in mathematics. Probably it is the other way around with your Eminence, isn’t it?” “No,” Faulhaber quietly replied, “to me both are merely different expressions of the same Divine truth.” But Einstein responded, “If mathematical science should prove one day that some of its findings are in direct conflict with religious beliefs what would you say then?” “Oh,” said the Cardinal with a smile, “I share the highest regard for mathematicians, and I am certain that in such a case you people would never rest until you found out where your mistake was!” St. Paul says much the same to us in today’s second reading. “Your Faith rests not on the wisdom of men but on the power of God.”(Fr. Robert F. McNamara).
2) The salt and the light are still at work when we “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”(John Wesley’s advice). We taste salt and see light when we receive the following Franciscan blessing: “May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half- truths, and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and the exploitation of people, so that you may wish for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.” (Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 14).
3) Korean, American and Chinese Christians: As you know, the majority religion in America is still Christianity, and yet we are dominated today not by the values of Christianity, but by the values of humanism and secularism. Yet, in Korea, even though there are 35 million Buddhists, and only two million evangelical Christians, Christian values dominate that culture. Why is that? It is because Korean Christians understand they are to be the salt of the earth. A Chinese Christian came to a missionary one time and said, “I have learned to quote the entire Sermon on the Mount by memory.” He stood before the missionary and perfectly quoted the sermon word-for-word. The missionary said, “That is wonderful. How did you practice it in your life?” The Chinese Christian said, “I spent the last year trying to live it.” Dr. James Stewart, a great British preacher, once said: “The greatest threat to Christianity is not Communism, atheism, materialism, or humanism. It is Christians trying to sneak into Heaven incognito without ever sharing their Faith, without ever living out the Christian life as salt of the earth and light of the world.” This is exactly the problem Jesus was trying to remedy with the part of the Sermon on the Mount on the Beatitudes.
4) Saints are people who let the light shine through: A little boy was taken by his mother to see a famous cathedral. On the windows were the pictures of various Christians. As he was watching the sunbeams shining through the stained-glass windows, he asked his mother, “Who are those people on the windows?” She said, “They’re saints.” The little boy looked at the windows and said, “Well, now I know what saints are. They are people who let the light shine through.” That little boy got it right. That’s what a saint is-someone who lets the light of Jesus shine through his life.
5) Be eagles soaring through the clouds of holiness: There is a story about a duck that broke his wing during the flight home for the winter. A sympathetic farmer retrieved the fallen duck and took him home. The farmer’s children adopted the duck as their pet and began to feed him from the table and take him along as they performed their daily chores. By the next fall, the children were heartbroken as they watched the duck look at the other ducks who were flying south for the winter, but his wing still wasn’t strong enough for the flight. Every time a flock flew south, the duck would look longingly into the sky and then return to play with the children. Well, the second year the duck’s wing had grown much stronger, but the children had fed the duck so well that when he attempted to take off he was too fat to get off the ground. After one or two attempts he gave up and returned to play with the children. The third year the duck was completely healed. But as the other ducks quacked their call to go south, the duck never even looked up as they flew over. He had become so accustomed to the comfort of his new existence he had lost his focus on the true calling and meaning of his life. God has not called us to be fat ducks, satisfied with a world that is going to go up in smoke. God has called us to be eagles soaring through the clouds of holiness; shaking out the salt of a godly life; shining out the light of the truth of Jesus Christ and bringing as many men as we can to glorify our Father in Heaven.
6) “I love Jesus and Gospel tapes”: After the Los Angeles riots, Steve Futterman of CBC Radio broadcast an interview he had had with one of the many looters in the riot. The man had been one of many people who had looted a record store. When asked what he had stolen, the man replied, “Gospel tapes. I love Jesus.” (“Quotes & Comments,” The United Church Observer, Sept. 1992, p. 48.) Our text for the day is about people who love Jesus, but hopefully in a more positive way than did this looter. Jesus defined his followers as the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.”
7) “It made a difference for that one.” While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance learning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a little boy. When he got closer, he discovered what the boy was doing. The kid was picking up starfish off the beach and throwing them back into the ocean. The man walked up to the kid and said, “What are you doing?” The boy said, “I am saving starfish.” “But,” said the man, “the beach goes on for miles and miles, and there are millions and millions of starfish. What difference does it make?” The little kid reached down, picked up one more starfish, tossed it into the ocean and simply said, “Well, it makes a difference to that one.” No one of us in this Church can do everything, but all of us in this place can do something in our homes and communities that the light of Christ may shine in the world.
8) Christmas lights of Wauconda, Illinois: Wauconda, Illinois is a small town with a population of 6500. For the past 45 years the town had placed two large illuminated crosses on the city water towers during the Christmas season. Then, last year, the town council received a threat of legal suit if the crosses were continued, based on the separation of church and state. The town council grudgingly took them down. But that’s when the citizens of Wauconda took matters into their own hands. They decided to place lighted reminders of Christ on their own property. So, all over the community, up went crosses and nativity stars and lighted manger scenes and trees. You could see Wauconda from the interstate freeway! You could see Wauconda a hundred miles away. All night it was as bright as day because the people decided to turn on the lights. In our Scriptural text for this morning, Jesus is urging us to turn on the lights. Each of us is supposed to shine for Christ’s sake. Our light is not like that of the sun. Our light resembles that of the moon; it is a reflected light, from Christ who lives within us.
9) Sanders was a tither radiating the light of Christ. Football player, Barry Sanders, was signed by the Detroit Lions in 1989. He was right out of college. Many eyebrows were raised when his contract was announced at $6.1 million for five years. But the real objection came when Sanders was also given an immediate signing bonus of $2.1. million. Critics said that Sanders was greedy. Objections were somewhat silenced, however, when word leaked out that Sanders had sent a check for $210,000 to his little Baptist church in Wichita, Kansas. Sanders was a tither. Both the size of that check and the fact that it was the first one he wrote turned on some lights for the Kingdom.
10) A wartime story. One of the boldest and most dramatic decisions of World War II was made by Admiral Marc Mitscher in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Late in the afternoon of June 20, 1944, Mitscher had dispatched a bombing mission against the fleeing Japanese fleet. It was pitch dark when the first of the flyers began returning to their carriers. But with the fleet under strict wartime blackout regulations and the pilots’ fuel supplies running dangerously low, many of the flyers would never be able to find their way back to their carriers. Admiral Mitscher took a calculated risk. He turned on the lights. One returning flyer described the scene as a “Hollywood premier, Chinese New Year’s, and Fourth of July all rolled into one.” For two hours the planes landed. Some eighty pilots, out of gas, ditched in the sea but close enough to the carriers that few were lost. When we are bold enough to turn on the lights for Christ, despite the costs and the risks, lost souls are won for our Lord and our city is electrified with His power.
11) This little light of mine, am I going to let it shine? A university professor was invited to speak at a military base in December. He was met at an airport by an unforgettable soldier named Ralph. This is the professor’s story: “After we introduced ourselves to each other, we headed toward the baggage claim area. But Ralph kept disappearing. Once he stopped to help an older woman with her baggage. Once he stopped to lift two toddlers up to see Santa Claus, and again, he paused to give directions to someone who was lost.” Finally, I said, “Where did you learn that?” “What?” asked Ralph. “Where did you learn to live like that?” Ralph replied, “During the war I was in Vietnam. My job was to clear the mine fields. You never knew which step might be your last, so I learned to live between the steps. I guess I just keep living that way.” This little light of mine, am I going to let it shine?
12) Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. “Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty, and then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled 200 miles from the place he was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credential but himself. While he was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away; one of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While he was dying his executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth – his coat. When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Twenty long centuries have come and gone, and today he is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever were built, all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.” (Author unknown)
13) Lighting a light rather than cursing the darkness: Terry Fox was a 22-year-old student at Simon Fraser University in Canada. In 1977, he developed bone cancer and had to have his right leg amputated. When his old high school basketball coach heard about the tragedy, he sent Terry a newspaper article about an amputee who ran in the New York Marathon. The article triggered Terry’s imagination. He knew he had only a few years to live, and he wanted to do something significant with them. He decided he would try to run across Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia, a distance of 5,000 miles. He would ask people to sponsor him and give the proceeds to cancer research. For 18 months, Terry practiced running on the artificial leg. Finally, on April 12, 1980, he began his run. He dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic and set out across Canada. In his pocket he had pledges totaling over a million dollars. Then 114 days and 3,000 miles into the run, Terry suddenly collapsed. The cancer had spread to his lungs. He would be unable to complete the run. When news of Terry’s collapse broke, people from all over Canada began sending pledges to him in the Hospital. In hours, over $24 million was pledged. A few days later, Terry died. If anyone had a right to curse the darkness, it was Terry. But he was too big for that. He decided to light a candle. And that light has been shining ever since. A movie has been made of his life. A stamp has been issued in his honor. And he is the youngest person ever to receive his nation’s highest honor, the Order of Canada. To this day, Terry still excites the imagination of people (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies).
14) Keeping the lights on: A mother and her small child once drove past the restored home of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield. It was night and the national shrine of the United States was brightly lit. “Look, mama,” the child said excitedly, “Mr. Lincoln has left his lights on.” The mother smiled. “Yes” she replied; “he left them on for the whole world to see.” Although Lincoln has been dead since 1865, he is still a tremendous inspiration to all people. But in a much more true sense Christ, “God from God, Light from Light” remains and will remain to the end the shining beacon for all peoples of all times. Christ has shared his Light with us his disciples and asks us to be what we are: the light of the world. (Vima Dasan; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
15) Salt (NaCl): Sodium is an extremely active element found naturally only in combined form; it always links itself to another element. Chlorine, on the other hand, is the poisonous gas that gives bleach its offensive odor. When sodium and chlorine are combined, the result is sodium chloride–common table salt–the substance we use to preserve meat and bring out its flavor. Love and truth can be like sodium and chlorine. Love without truth is flighty, sometimes blind, willing to combine with various doctrines. On the other hand, truth by itself can be offensive, sometimes even poisonous. Spoken without love, it can turn people away from the Gospel. When truth and love are combined in an individual or a Church, however, then we have what Jesus called “the salt of the earth,” and we’re able to preserve and bring out the beauty of our Faith. (David H. Johnson).
16) Be not simply good…Alexander Solzhenitsyn recalls, as he says, “with shame,” an incident he witnessed when he was captain in the Russian army. “One day I saw a sergeant of the secret police, on horseback, using a whip on a Russian soldier who had been captured serving in a German unit. The man, naked from the waist up, was staggering under the blows, his body covered in blood. Suddenly he looked at me and cried out: “Mister Captain, save me!” “Any officer in any army in the world should have put a stop to this torture, but I was a coward. I said nothing, I did nothing. This picture has remained in my mind ever since.” He could have brought light into a dark situation, but he didn’t. “Be not simply good”, says Thoreau, “be good for something.” (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
17) Love brings trouble: It’s been said that when we love people and go out to help them, we become vulnerable. That’s what the wealthy industrialist Charles M. Schwab declared after going to court and winning a suit at age seventy. Given permission by the judge to speak to the spectators, Schwab made the following statement: “I’d like to say here in a court of law, and speaking as an old man, that nine-tenths of my troubles are traceable to my being kind to others. Look, you young people, if you want to steer away from trouble, be hard-boiled. Be quick with a good loud ‘no’ to anyone and everyone. If you follow this rule, you will seldom be bothered as you tread life’s pathways. Except you’ll have no friends, you’ll be lonely, and you won’t have fun!” Schwab made his point –love may bring headache, but it’s worth it because we are the light of the world. (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
18) Copper Kettle Christian: A woman in Bible study related that when she recently went into her basement, she made an interesting discovery. Some potatoes had sprouted in the darkest corner of the room. At first, she couldn’t figure out how they had received enough light to grow. Then she noticed that she had hung a copper kettle from a rafter near a cellar window. She kept it so brightly polished that it reflected the rays of the sun onto the potatoes. She exclaimed, “When I saw that reflection, I thought, I may not be a preacher or a teacher with the ability to expound upon Scripture, but at least I can be a copper kettle Christian, catching the rays of the Son and reflecting his light to someone in a dark corner.” (Brian Cavanaugh in Sower’s Seeds of Encouragement; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
19) Choosing Life: Dr. Victor E. Frankl, survivor of three grim years at Auschwitz and other Nazi prisons, has recorded his observations on life in Hitler’s camps. “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Victor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
20)”Now I believe!” One day a man visited St. Teresa of Calcutta’s (Mother Teresa) home for the poor and the dying in Calcutta. He arrived just as the Sisters were bringing in some of the dying off the streets. They had picked up a man off the gutter, and he was covered with dirt and sores. Without knowing that she was being watched, one of the Sisters began to care for the dying man. The visitor kept watching the Sister as she worked. He saw how tenderly she cared for her patient. He noticed how, as she washed the man, she smiled at him. She did not miss a detail in her attentive care of that dying man. After carefully watching the Sister the visitor turned to Mother Teresa and said, “When I came here today, I didn’t believe in God, and my heart was full of hatred. But now I am leaving here believing in God. I have seen the love of God in action. Through the hands of that Sister, through her tenderness, through her gestures which were so full of love for that wretched man, I have seen God’s love descend upon him. Now I believe.” We make God present to others by being the salt of the earth and light of the world. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
21) As Dear as Salt: An aged king who had three sons decided to choose his successor. To test his heir, he inquired how much they loved him. “More than the world’s wealth!” exclaimed the first. The second declared. “Greater than all the wisdom the world holds!” The youngest said, “As dear as salt.” Infuriated, the king exiled him and bequeathed the kingdom to his eldest son. Later, fortune favored the banished son, and he became king in another faraway kingdom. But he missed his father and longed to meet him. Years later, he invited his father –very old by then – for a banquet and ordered that sumptuous dishes be prepared, but without any salt. When the old king came to the palace, his son pretended to be away, and the courtiers requested the king to begin feasting. The aroma of the food pleased the king, but, when he tasted it, he was aghast- it was tasteless, saltless! Angry, he demanded an explanation for the insult. His son-king appeared in his regalia, and the old king recognized him, realizing his indiscretion. – Jesus tells you, today, that you are not only ‘as dear as salt’ but “You are salt! You are light!”
(Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
22) Let your light shine: A poor Scottish farmer named Fleming heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog and found a terrified boy, mired up to his waste in black muck. Fleming saved the child from what could have been a slow horrible death. The next day a fancy carriage pulled up at his home and an elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Fleming saved. “I want to repay you” said the nobleman for saving my son’s life.” “No, I can’t accept payment for what I did.” said the Scottish farmer. At that moment, the farmer’s son came to the door of the family hovel. “Is that your son?” the nobleman asked. “Yes,” the farmer replied proudly. “I will make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education that my son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he will no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.” And he did. Farmer Fleming’s son attended the very best schools and in time graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School, London University, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the man who discovered Penicillin. Years afterward, the same nobleman’s son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time? Penicillin. The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill. Let us be the salt of the earth; and let our light shine before others. (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
23) St. Teresa’s invitation to come be His light: Saint Teresa of Calcutta received an inspiration from Our Lord to found the Missionaries of Charity and bring his Light to the poor and ailing of Calcutta. In her spiritual diaries, Saint Teresa described this invitation by Our Lord as an invitation to come be His light (see Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta, by Mother Teresa and Brian Kolodiejchuk). When she saw the squalor in which the poor of India lived, she felt Our Lord asking her to bring His Light into the darkness of those holes (Ibid). She once said, “Words which do not give the Light of Christ increase the darkness” Even though her spiritual diaries show she experienced an intense spiritual darkness for much of her life, no one who knew her could see it in the way she treated others. She was always a shining beacon of joy, love, and peace. (source: http://www.catholic.org/clife/teresa/quotes.php). (E- Priest)
24) “Digital Humanity” One Catholic layman recently showed that he understands this truth deeply. Reflecting on the Vatican’s insistent call to Catholics to use new media for good and not for ill, he got an idea. He envisioned a social-networking community that would be built around the Golden Rule: Do unto others what you have them do unto you. This is a moral principle present, in some form or other, in all cultures and almost all religions. But even though almost everybody agrees with it, almost nobody makes a concerted effort to follow it. So this Catholic businessman started a social networking web site called “Digital Humanity” or “DigHu” [dih-joo] [http://www.dighu.com/home.php]. The site is built around members who record their “daily dighus” – daily good deeds done to better the world one step at a time. Here are some examples of recent posts: [You may want to go to the site to see more recent posts or to look for ones that would be interesting for your parishioners.] Paulie posted: “Stopped to check on the inhabitants of a car that spun out.” PACMAN posted: “Covering the shift of a fellow employee on my off day.” Nicole S posted: “Washed the dishes without complaining.” The theory behind the site is simple: people need encouragement to do what they know they should be doing, and social network sharing of daily dighus may be able to help provide that kind of encouragement. It’s a new web site, and still small. But imagine how pleased our Lord must be with that Catholic layman, who had the courage and creativity to come up with a new way to try and obey Christ’s admonition in today’s Gospel: “Your Light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” He is someone who has decided to live his God-given mission actively, without delay. (E- Priest)
25) “I give them Jesus.” St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) was speaking to persons who had come to meet her from all over the world. Among those to whom she spoke was a group of religious sisters from many North American orders. After her talk she asked if there were any questions. “Yes, I have one,” a Sister sitting near the front said. “As you know, most of the orders represented here have been losing members. It seems that more and more women are leaving all the time. And yet your order is attracting thousands upon thousands. What do you do?” Without hesitating Mother Teresa answered, “I give them Jesus.” “Yes I know,” said the woman, “but take habits, for example. Do your women object to wearing habits? And the rules of the order, how do you do it?” “I give them Jesus,” Mother Teresa replied. “Yes, I know Mother,” said the woman, “but can you be more specific?” “I give them Jesus,” Mother Teresa repeated again. “Mother,” said the woman, “we are all of us aware of your fine work. I want to know about something else.” Mother Teresa said quietly, “I give them Jesus. There is nothing else.” (Margaret Davidson, Scholastic, 1971. Cited in BTBC, pp. 250-251.) We Christians have something the world cannot find anywhere else. It is Jesus, the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
26) Rose Hawthorne Makes a Splash: The story of Rose Hawthorne, daughter of the famous nineteenth century American author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, illustrates the influence of example. Rose’s family of origin was not even Christian, but Unitarian. The family traveled to Italy when Rose was just a girl, and the beauty of the art, architecture, and Catholic culture there impressed them. But at the same time, the mediocre lives of the Catholic Christians they met there turned them off. Nathaniel Hawthorne actually wrote about this, commenting on how little effect this beauty seemed to have on the people: “I really wonder that Catholics are not better men and women.” But if the bad example of some Catholics turned off Nathaniel Hawthorne, it was the good example of some other Catholics that led his daughter Rose to discover her calling. She and her husband became Catholic soon after their marriage, and Rose found herself deeply impressed by the visible presence of women consecrated entirely to God and the Church: Catholic nuns. After her husband passed away, she became a nun herself, actually founding the Hawthorne Dominicans for the Care of Incurable Cancer – a congregation still going strong today. One rule of this congregation is that they do not accept any money from a patient’s family, as that could end up prejudicing them towards wealthier patients. That example of totally unselfish service made an impression on another famous American writer from the nineteenth century – Mark Twain. He was so impressed by Rose’s work, in fact, that even though he was not a Catholic himself and had inherited a strong prejudice against Catholicism, he became one of Rose’s first and steadiest benefactors. As Catholics, the example of what we do and how we do it can either draw people closer to God or push them further away. ( Fr. Charles P. Connor’s “Classic Catholic Converts.”] E- Priest.
27) Dodgers are going to win with Don Sutton pitching. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Sutton hadn’t won a game in eight weeks. A critical press was suggesting that he be dropped from the starting lineup. The future looked bleak, and Sutton felt terrible. Then, before a game, Dodgers manager Walter Alston tapped him on the shoulder. “I’d like to speak with you, Don,” he said. Sutton prepared himself for the worst. “Don,” said Alston, “I know how the past couple of months have been for you. Everyone’s wondering whether we can make it to the play-offs . . . You know there’s a lot of pressure . . . I’ve had to make a decision.” Sutton had visions of being taken off the mound. Then Alston continued. “If the Dodgers are going to win this year,” he said, looking Sutton in the eye, “they’re going to win with Don Sutton pitching. Come what may, you’re staying in the starting job. That’s all I wanted to say.” Sutton’s losing streak lasted two more weeks, but because of his manager’s encouragement he felt different about it. Something in him was turning around. He found himself pitching the best ball of his career. In the National League pennant drive, he won 13 games out of 14. There are all kinds of theories about how to motivate people. We can do it through guilt, through fear, through shame. But these were not Jesus’ methods. Jesus motivated through positive messages of hope and encouragement. Consider our lesson for today. Jesus says to his followers, “You are the light of the world. . . .” (Sermons.com).
28) They have changed the skyline of a city like New York!” It was during the early days of television. A workman was placing television transmitters at the very top of the Empire State building in New York City. Seeing him at work up there, so far off the ground, a reporter thought this would make a fascinating human interest story. So, when the workman had completed his task and had returned to the ground, the reporter approached him and asked, “Aren’t you frightened to work under conditions like that that? Isn’t it dangerous to work so high off the ground?” The workman replied, “Yes sir, it is dangerous.” Then he added…“But then, how many people can say that they have changed the skyline of a city like New York!” After relating that story, James McCormick comments: God offers us the privilege of changing the skyline not of a city, but of the world by becoming the Light of the world. We can help make this world healthier, more humane, more harmonious, and more blessed. (Fr. Kayala).
29) What’s your favorite color? 450? 600? Or 700? In case those numbers don’t immediately mean anything to you, on the visible spectrum scale for light 450 nanometers means “blue,” 600 is yellow, and at 700 nanometers you are seeing red. But we don’t “see” numbers, do we? We see the beautiful, variable, illuminating colors that light takes on as it is refracted and reflected before our eyes. We don’t experience nanometers — we bask under a blue sky! Or we bath in wonder at the beauty of a sunset that melts from orange to red to crimson and purple. Whether we catalogue light as 550 nanometers or perceive it as “green” is all a matter of perspective. Are we dissecting the idea of “light” into its most basic components (measured nanometers)? Or are we responding to the expression of that light as we experience it in the world (colors)? In Matthew’s account of the “Sermon on the Mount,” immediately after Jesus lays out his “blessed be” Beatitudes, he lifts up two metaphors of how disciples of the kingdom will be known to this world. They will be the “salt of the earth,” they will be the “light of the world,” a light that will “shine before others.” Salt sharpens flavors. Light sharpens both sight and insight. Jesus is calling would-be followers of the kingdom to sharpen lives by living on the sharp, the cutting edges, the places where new perspectives, new tastes, and new visions are embraced. Light does not just banish darkness and illuminate corners and crevices. Fr. Tony Kayla).
30) “Sometimes it’s good to know a second language!” There was a mother mouse who decided to teach her children about the world. So, she gathered all of her little mice and set out for a walk. They walked down the hall and turned to the right. Then they went down the hall and took another right. And suddenly they found themselves in front of the family cat dozing in the sunlight. The mother mouse was scared. But she didn’t want to give in to her fright. So, she signaled to the children to be very quiet and to follow as she began to tip toe quietly and slowly past the sleeping cat. Just as she was about to get past the cat, the cat’s eyes popped open and raised its paw. The little mice were petrified. What would their mother do? Well, just as the cat’s paw started to come down, that mother mouse looked the cat right in the eye and started barking like a dog. And do you know what? The cat was so startled and frightened that it jumped up and ran away! The mother mouse, wiped her brow, shook a little and then turned to her little mice and said, “Children, I hope you learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes it’s good to know a second language!” It’s the same way with us. It’s good to know a second language. Salt and Light are the language of God; the language of Grace; the language of hope and love. And when this language is translated into action it becomes the most beautiful language ever spoken. We’re called to be Salt and Sight and to speak the language of God as we live our Faith. We’re called to live the Word. ( Billy D. Strayhorn, The Salt and Light Brigade).
31) Salt of the earth Mike Ilitch helping Rosa Park: Those who knew Mike Ilitch, the Little Caesars founder and Detroit Tigers owner who died last Friday, [February 10, 2017], have spent the past few days fondly remembering his impact on friends, on Detroit residents, and on the sports community. Ilitch also had an impact on the daily life of one of the most iconic figures from the civil rights movement. For more than a decade, Ilitch had quietly paid for Rosa Parks’ apartment in downtown Detroit, according to CNN affiliate WXYZ. That story came to light thanks to Damon Keith, a Detroit native and federal judge. Shortly after her famed defiance of segregation sparked the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott, Parks moved to Detroit and became an important presence in the city for years afterward. But in 1994, Parks was robbed and assaulted in her home at the age of 81. Keith, himself an important legal figure in the civil rights movement, worked to find Parks a new, safer apartment at the Riverfront Apartments in Detroit, according to the Sports Business Daily. Ilitch read the story in the newspaper and called Keith, offering to pay for Parks’ housing indefinitely. With no fanfare, Ilitch continued paying for the apartment until Parks died in 2005, Keith said. (http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/15/us/mike-ilitch-rosa-parks-trnd/)
32) “You are my sunshine”: Like all good parents, when Karen and her husband found that another baby was on the way, they did what they could to help their three-year old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling. When they found the baby was going to be a girl, they would gather Michael in their arms and he would sing to his sister in Mummy’s tummy the only song he knows, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.” The pregnancy progresses normally, then the labour pains, but complications arise during delivery. Finally, Michael’s sister is born but she is in serious conditions. The days inch by but the little girl gets worse. The pediatric specialist tells the parents, “There is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst.” Michael Keeps begging to see his sister. “I want to sing to her,” he pleads. But children are not allowed in the ICU. Finally, Karen makes up her mind. She will take Michael to the hospital whether they like it or not, figuring that if he doesn’t see his sister now, he may never see her alive. She dresses him and marched him to the ICU, but the head nurse bellows, “Get that kid out of here now!” Karen glares into the nurse’s face, her lips a firm line, “He is not leaving until he sings to his sister!” Michael gazed at the tiny infant losing the battle to live, and begins to sing in the pure-hearted voice of a three-year-old: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are grey…” Instantly, the baby responds. Her pulse rate becomes calm and steady. Keep on singing Michael! “You never know dear how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.” The baby’s ragged, strained breathing becomes as smooth as a kitten’s purr. Michael’s little sister relaxes at rest, -healing rest seems to sweep over her. Keep on singing Michael! Tears conquer the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glows. Funeral plans are scrapped. The next day -the very next day- the little girl is well enough to go home! – In an article about the incident, Woman’s Day magazine called it “the miracle of a brother’s song.” Karen called it a miracle of God’s love. The medical staff simply called it a miracle. We call it the Lazarus story all over again. Love is stronger than death. (William Bausch in The Word In and Out of Season; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
33) ‘Keeper of the Flame.” Sometime ago the Los Angeles Times carried a moving story by reporter Dave Smith. It was about a modern Christian who put God first in his life, other people second, and himself third. His name is Charlie DeLeo. After returning from Vietnam, he got a job as maintenance man at the Statue of Liberty. Charlie told the reporter that part of his job is to take care of the torch in the statue’s hand and the crown on the statue’s head. He has to make sure that the sodium vapor lights are always working and that the 200 glass windows in the torch and the crown are always clean. Pointing to the torch, Charlie said proudly, “That’s my chapel. I dedicated it to the Lord, and I go up there and meditate on my breaks.” But Charlie does other things for the Lord, as well. He received a commendation from the Red Cross after donating his 65th pint of blood. And since hearing of the work of Mother Teresa in India, he has given over $12,000 to her and to people like her. Charlie told the Los Angeles Times reporter: “I don’t socialize much; don’t have enough money to get married. I don’t keep any of my money. After I got my job, I sponsored six orphans through those children’s organizations.” Charlie ended by telling the reporter that he calls himself the “Keeper of the Flame” of the Statue of Liberty. Later a park guide told the reporter: “Everybody knows Charlie is special. When he first gave himself that title, people smiled. But we all take it seriously now. To us, he’s exactly what he says: ‘Keeper of the Flame’.” Jesus in today’s gospel passage, challenges us to be the keeper of his flame. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies).
34) An encounter with true Christian light: President Woodrow Wilson once told the story of his encounter with true Christian Light. He said: “I was in a very common place. I was sitting in a barber chair, when I became aware that a powerful personality had entered the room. A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself, to have his hair cut, and sat in the chair next to me. Every word the man uttered, though it was not in the least didactic, showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him. And before I got through with what was being done to me, I was aware that I had attended an evangelistic service, because pastor Dwight L. Moody was in that chair. I purposely lingered in the room after he had left and noted the singular effect that his visit had brought upon the barber shop. They talked in undertones. They didn’t know his name, but they knew something had elevated their thoughts, and I felt that I left that place as I should have left a place of worship.”
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 16) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily and the CBCI website https://cbci.in/SundayReflectionsNew.aspx?&id=cG2JDo4P6qU=&type=text. for a full version Or https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under Fr. Tony or under CBCI for my website version. Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604