My Dear Sisters and Brothers! We could talk about social and humanitarian usefulness of our faith. We could point to schools, hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, orphanages etc. to prove our usefulness to the society. It is the safe argumentation like that St Paul had at the Areopagus, but as St Paul was called to proclaim more as we are called to proclaim more than our social usefulness. “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world” said our Blessed Lord in the Gospel. The saltiness and brightness come to us as a gift of the Beatitudes we heard last Sunday. Those eight blessings turn upside down the image of religion. “Blessed the poor in spirit. Blessed the gentle. Blessed who morn. Blessed who hunger and thirst for what is right. Blessed the merciful. Blessed the peacemakers. Blessed persecuted in the cause of right.” Read and contemplate in the light of the cross and Resurrection, accepted in faith and trust, these words form a new community of women and men who see in the situations which are understood by many as disaster, failure, tragedy, unfairness etc., the God who accepted the pain of the crucifixion. Crucifixion which is madness to the wise and a scandal to those who follow various religions but to us it is the power of God. Typically religion is understood as a protection gods give to the humans. Christianity, however, is about God who saves us in order we could have the eternal happiness. Sometimes Christians are described as seekers of suffering. We don’t seek suffering. Neither did Jesus. But we are realistic. We know that suffering is the outcome of sin. As long as sin exists in this world of ours as long the suffering, in its various forms, is to mark our existence. However sin, which is always turning away from God, doesn’t turn God away from us. God is not sulky because of our unfaithfulness. He is always faithful. He is with us when the consequences of our sins and the sins of others affect us. As the global warming, air pollution and wrong choices of other drives affect us as our sins affect others and their sins affect us.
My Dear Friends! The Lord wants us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. As even a little of salt can penetrate and season the whole dish as the Lord wants to penetrate the most despairing and most hardened hearts and minds by the presence of his disciples who live the Beatitudes every day. As the light embraces and enlivens the living creatures of this world as the Lord wants to embrace and enliven all men and women by the presence of his disciples who live the Beatitudes every day.
Let me finish with a prayer written by Blessed John Henry Newman. This prayer is prayed by Sisters of Charity, founded by Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, after receiving Holy Communion. When the Lord Jesus enters their very being they don’t think about themselves, they don’t focus on enjoying the closeness with the Lord but they pray:
Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go;
Flood my soul with your spirit and life;
Penetrate and possess my whole being so completely
That all my life may be only a radiance of yours;
Shine through me and be so in me
That everyone with whom I come into contact
may feel your presence within me.
Let them look up and see no longer me—but only Jesus. Amen.