As I listened to the readings to prepare for this, all I could think was this is why I am who I am. This is why I do what I do. This is what it means to be Christian, to be Catholic.
Care for the poor. Care for the ones who have little, the ones who have noting. Do it without judgment or reservation or complaining. This is what we are here for. We are meant to be proclaimers of the Word, examples for the Lord.
Jesus tells us we are salt for the earth. What does that mean?
Every one of us here has salt in the kitchen. We use it when we prepare meals, when we bake, when settle in to eat. It seasons, it preserves, it flavors, it enhances. It’s a dietary necessity, a requirement for our bodies to function.
When salt cannot be used for flavor, it gets used for manufacturing and other industrial functions. This winter, we’ve seen a whole lot of it on our streets. In ancient times, soldiers poured salt into the fields and tramped it into the soil, ruining the land for use in growing crops.
We are salt for the earth. We are a requirement for the earth to function, and when we do not fulfill our role as enhancer and preserver, we are no longer being useful.
There is a book series I read years ago about a man named Joshua. They center around a man who lives very simply, who comes one day to a town and quietly begins to transform the people within it. He is revolutionary, but not in a 6 o’clock news way. In one of the books, his carpentry skills are commissioned by two separate churches, each requesting a statue for their sanctuaries. He agrees, carves the pieces completely by hand, and delivers them to the pastors. Each pastor is shocked—the piece is not what they expected. The Pentecostal church’s statue is of Peter in a strong authoritative role, gesturing, leading. The priest’s statue is of Peter caring for a dying man. The two pastors agree they are more comfortable with the other church’s piece, so they decide to exchange them. Problem solved.
But within a few days, one pastor called the other. This statue, I know the message and I like it. but it doesn’t speak to me the way the other did. Would you consider trading back? The other pastor feels the same way.
Each realizes the message that Joshua carved into that piece was designed for his church. They had part of the message Jesus intended, but they were missing some of it—the uncomfortable part. And yet, when they tried to avoid the discomfort, they found something lacking.
After calling us salt of the earth, Jesus calls us light for the world. Instead of hiding our gifts, we must share them.
Oftentimes, I am a lot more comfortable doing the good things and not talking about them. I don’t do them for the attention or the glory; I just do it because it’s the right thing to do.
It’s easier for me to do this, to just be who I am and try to make a difference in my own small ways. It’s harder for me to stand up here and talk about it. It’s harder for me to put into words the way I feel and the way I believe. It’s easier for me to be salt than to be a light on the lampstand, drawing people in and getting others to be salty too. I’m shy. I’m an introvert. Talking up what I’m doing, even when it means that others can benefit from my knowledge and experience and belief, is a struggle for me.
Other people find it easier to talk. They enjoy standing up and talking about God and are comfortable posting about it on Facebook and knocking on doors and inviting everyone they meet into the conversation.
Salt for the earth means that we are full of the potential for good works, and light for the world means that our lives can enlighten others.
Next month, we will have our parish council meeting to make some decisions about how we will move forward as a community.
Both are important. Both are necessary as we work to bring justice into the world. Together, they will guide us to our Next Right Thing.