5 February 2023, Salt and Light

In today’s Gospel Story Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its flavor, with what can it be seasoned?”. In the Alleluia we hear him say, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will have the light of life”. {{Sounds like something I have to pay real attention to, and not just on the theoretical level, but definitely on the operational level.}}

Both Benedict XVI and Francis talk about the Church leading us to a personal encounter with Jesus. This encounter is what our dogmas and practices would lead us to when we let them. Many of us don’t get beyond obeying the rules and believing the right things, and that is comfortable and safe. If we are still “going to church” we’re probably doing it because we’ve always done it. This isn’t good or bad, it just is a part of our life.

For much of his time as Pope, Francis has been teaching that, while the Gospel remains the same, the way it is presented has to adjust to the times in which we are living. We have to find ways of presenting the Gospel that make sense to or resonate with the lives of our people. There is a lot of good being done by folks who used to be, or maybe even never were, involved with church. Much of this good is reflective of gospel values, yet the folks doing the good do not use accepted religious terminology. On the one hand they do not accept for any number of reasons the god that is presented by much of organized religion, yet on the other hand they are doing a lot of what this God is calling Jesus’ followers to do. Maybe we might be open to seeing the Gospel happen in folks who deny any contact with organized religion and are using terms and ideas that we are not familiar with. Good News is happening.

Which brings us, perhaps, to “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”. An important responsibility for any of us who really want to follow Jesus is to be open to the Spirit whom Jesus sends “to remind us of all that he has taught us”. The Spirit shows us what it means for us to live as disciples of Jesus in our own circumstances. Being open to the Spirit in this way is a deeply personal matter, but definitely not a private one, since it always involves other people.
Jesus uses the disturbing phrases, “But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything”; “your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds”. If we are willing to take the chance and really try to be open to the Spirit in our everyday lives, this active desire to be open has to be a significant part of our every day focus. We need some sort of a prayer practice that is centered on our desire to be open to the Spirit. A hard part will always be keeping our ego out of the way — no simple thing. This can’t be about us and our desire to be liked, to feel important or special. If any light of our light must shine before others, it has to be the light of Christ and not our own brilliance or intellectual ability. It’s not about us.

These days in the Church there is a lot of nasty arguing and infighting. As Francis is moving the church to be more Gospel oriented he is being besieged on all sides for trying to be open to the Spirit. A significant number of bishops, especially American bishops, are publicly disagreeing with and attacking him for everything from synodality to how he treats women and our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Many of us, myself included, seem to be having a love affair with our own ideas and egos, as if we have all the answers. Some worthwhile questions might be whose light am I shining, am I losing the flavor of salt and becoming useless? And, do I really want the light of life since it night disturb the comfortable and controlled way of living I have set up for myself? I might have to make some uncomfortable adjustments — pack light and move fast.

As we see from Jesus’ life, trying to follow him and be open to the Spirit is not easy and can be quite expensive, involving a lot of doubting, wondering, questioning, uncertainty, and a lot of trust. Maybe this is what is meant by a leap of faith. Much of what Jesus calls his followers to flies in the face of current political and ecclesiastical values and practices. What does this mean for us on our journey? Is there a light showing anything to us, is the salt adding any dimension in our life?

Just sayin . . . .

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Steve Karthan

    Beautiful again! Thanks Padre! Great insight that you have…please keep sharing.

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