Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
Deacon Bobby Peregrino, Spiritual Advisor for the Sacramento Filipino Cursillo Movement, has kindly shared his homily for last Sunday’s Mass. It is titled, “Being Salt of the Earth and Light of the World and People will Know We are Christians by Our Love”. You can find the audio link and the full text of his homily below this email. De Colores!
Deacon Ben Agustin
Homily on “Being Salt of the Earth and Light of the World and People will Know We are Christians by Our Love” based on the Gospel reading (Mt. 5:13-16) for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Click on the link below to listen to the audio of the homily:
Here’s the text:
Jesus used the metaphors – salt, light, city set on a mountain - to describe the Church - relative to her mission in the world. They all are for the sake of others. When we speak of Church – We – ARE the Church - the People of God –and the Gospel message is for each one of us – not only addressed to the clergies or religious or the person next to you.
“You are the salt of the earth.” Salt is not eaten for its own sake but salt is put into meat – to preserve it, to spice it up, to make it taste better.
Actually - Salt cannot lose its saltiness. Sodium chloride, salt, is a chemical compound. Salt is not a complex composition like wine, which can become bitter. Salt is not an organic compound like meat or cheese or bread, which can spoil or rot. Salt is salt, pure and simple.
So – what does Jesus really mean by the phrase, “but if the salt has lost its saltiness, it is useless, and worthy of being thrown out - to be trampled by - underfoot.” - which is a warning to us.
Jesus is actually referring to the salt losing its usefulness – How? – We fail to live as the salt of the earth when we prefer to stay in the safety of the salt shaker – so to speak – just staying in our comfort zone and safe world - rather than fulfilling our destiny out in the world… which is to be the seasoning to those who face a bland existence; to serve as a preservative like the salt to keep the world from going bad… to preserve what is right and good and true.
We lose our saltiness – so to speak – our distinctiveness as Sons and Daughters of God – when we simply blend in with the world… when we look and sound and act as everybody else… So - Who needs us then? What good are we for - then?
Jesus did not command us: “You ought to be the salt of the earth, should act like salt, or pretend we were salt, or attempt to be salt.” He said, “YOU ARE the salt of the earth.” – Referring to our identity – who we are - Meaning - We already have what we need to make a difference in the world… by virtue of our baptism in Christ.
Our very being is Sacramental (signs/instruments) of God’s love, grace and mercy as the Body of Christ.
“You ARE the light of the world.” Light is not threatened by darkness. There is no measure of darkness that can swallow up light. Darkness cannot quench light. In fact, the greater the darkness, the greater the power of a single source of light to show the way. “You are the light of the world,” Jesus said. So do not fear the darkness. Go conquer it.
You are a City set on a Mountain… A city set up on a mountain helps guide the ship in its navigation … helps show the way to travelers… The Church is meant to be visible so people can see how to guide their lives by it. Literally – we can say – St. Catherine of Siena Parish Church is a Church set up on a hill. So – is our parish, are our parishioners, is our community - a guiding light for people who live in darkness where hatred and violence and hopelessness dwell?
Jesus calls His followers to make a difference in their world as a witness to the character and will of God.
It has been said: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph in the world is for good people to do nothing.” (Edmund Burke). Doing nothing is a sin of omission. It is a deadly sin. We contribute to the cause of evil by our evil deeds, and also by not doing the good deeds we ought to do.
Pope Francis said: "I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security."
What good is the light of the lamp under a bushel basket. It only lightens up the inside of the basket… “You are the light of the world,” the Lord says. “Your light must shine before others so they can see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” We have a responsibility to others.
We heard in the first reading from Isaiah: “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.” Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,” Our light should shine by caring for those who need us.
When we perform charitable actions, we are beacons of the Light of Christ that has come into the world. We have a responsibility to let others see this light of Christ, and through this light find their way out of darkness and despair and into the way of love and fulfillment, the way of holiness.
Meaning – the reason why we help others in not just for sake of helping others - not just for the poor to have their physical and worldly needs met – but the ultimate goal is that by helping those in need - out of darkness and despair – they, too, will find their way to love – to holiness – and Encounter Christ… so they can love God.
This is the underlying reason and passion that drove Mother Teresa to help the poorest of the poor so that eventually they can love God… Christ is thirsty for the love of the poor.
It is not enough that the followers of Jesus are the salt of the earth. Jesus wants us to get out of the salt shaker into the flavorless world!
Later, in that same Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (7:21) Jesus calls us - not to be just identified with Him, but to follow Him. He went where people were hungry and poor, lonely and hopeless. He retreated to quiet places to be alone with God. He refused worldly power and wealth. He loved his enemies. Every day he took up a cross of self-sacrificing love. He calls us to follow him.
In the Gospel of Mark 3:31-35 - Jesus said: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’
The name “Christian” is not enough. Today maybe more people than ever before call themselves Christian but there are not nearly as many, however, who day by day follow in the way of Jesus Christ.
There are not many whose lives are like salt, seasoning the world for others, - - - or like light, bringing illumination to all the dark places of the world. Do you know people like this? When we encounter such people, they don’t have to tell us they are Christians. We know who they are. When we ourselves decide to take seriously the invitation to follow Jesus, we will not need to identify ourselves to the world. “They will know we are Christians by our love.”