Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You Are The Salt Of The Earth. You Are The Light Of The World

II Corinthians 1:18-22
Brothers and sisters: As surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not both "Yes" and "No." For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas] and Timothy, was not "Yes" and "No," but in him it has always been "Yes." For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment, a pledge of what is yet to come.

Matthew 5:13-16
Jesus said to his disciples:
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bushel basket. Instead they set it on a lamp stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. Just so, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

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"A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden." If you go to Italy you will see towns and cities built on hilltops and mountaintops. In fact, this is the preferred location in every part of the world – at least wherever there are mountains and hills. The view from most of these places is magnificent, but it was not to admire the landscape below, but to observe the approach of enemy armies that cities are built on high places.

But, as you might have guessed, this is not only about cities, but about people.

When I was a lad, learning to read, my aunts Aline and Claire got me a birthday present – or maybe a Christmas gift (it was not yesterday or the day before) – the two volume set of Fr. Daniel Lord’s “Illustrated Lives of the Saints”. I can’t tell you the names of all the Saints in those two little pamphlets, but I remember some of them: Mary and Joseph, of course; John the Baptist and Lawrence (my own patron saints); Stephen being stoned, and Sebastian with the arrow sticking out of his chest; Perpetua and Felicity, women martyrs, as well.

I also remember Imelda, who was pictured kneeling before the tabernacle. My father’s friend Ed Nugent had a niece named Imelda; I suspect it was more popular a name among folks with Irish ancestry than people whose forebears came from France. Aline was not in the little book, but Claire of Assisi was, along with Francis. Therese de Lisieux was there too, and Jeanne d’Arc.
One of my sources mentioned a few “saints for our times” and I would like to share them with you.
•Pope John XXIII, that wondrous human being whose love for all God’s people cut through centuries of religious hostilities.
•St. Ignatius, who teaches us to find God in all things and to live as women and men for others in order to win the world for God. I love knowing that everything in life can become a prayer.
•Mother Theresa who taught us to turn our daily lives into “something beautiful for God” through reaching out to those in need in our communities.
•St. Thomas More, that “man for all seasons” who goads us to maintain the courage of our convictions even if there’s a heavy price.
Another of my sources, Tamora Whitney, who teaches World Lit, Composition, and Creative Writing at Creighton University, had this brief comment on Monday’s readings:
The readings today are comforting, which is good, because I need comforting. In the beatitudes we are told that those who are having a tough time now, suffering in this world, will not suffer forever. The trials of this world will be reversed in heaven. Those who are meek and obedient to God will get their reward, perhaps not here, perhaps not soon, but their reward will be great in heaven. Those who show mercy here will be shown mercy there. People here who feel they have not been blessed will receive those blessings in heaven.

My husband recently died. It’s very hard for me. Of course I am mourning. And here I see, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” And, as I said, I’m in need of some comforting. And I’m hurting, but I do still feel blessed. I know what a blessing it was for us to have the time we had together. And I still feel his presence. I have the blessings of wonderful memories, and I am comforted knowing that we will be together again on the other side – what a great reward that will be.

May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace.
And may she be comforted, according to the promise of Jesus, and with time, may her heart’s sorrow be replaced with joy.

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