Over and over I have found myself in circumstances and faced challenges which have called me to be more…
…more the man that God wanted me to be.
As I look back over my life one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced was taking kids from Catholic University to live and work in the third world.
I have made 10 of those trips to countries like,
Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, and Tanzania.
They were never easy trips.
I can honestly say that sometimes I faced them with dread.
I was always afraid that something would happen to one of the kids and I was very protective.
Once I got so sick with amebic dysentery that the kids literally had to carry me to the truck in a thunderstorm.
Then we rode for 50 minutes to the nearest doctor as they covered me with their ponchos. It was very dramatic.
But I’ve always come back from those trips or challenges,
a better person,
or at least I’ve come back knowing that I needed to be a better person.
One evening in Guatemala when I was walking over to church for Night Prayer
I noticed there were two young men standing on the corner down the street and one was waving a machete.
It concerned me and I was going to take the long way to Church when all of the lights went out.
The whole town went dark.
It was so dark in fact, that when you put your hand in front of your face you could not see it.
I was afraid to take another step.
I became disoriented.
I didn’t know which way I was facing.
I didn’t know where those men were.
It was scary.
It was probably the first time in my life when I had experienced complete darkness,
and it was even more disconcerting because it came completely unexpected.
I stood there frozen and then someone down the street to the Church turned on a little flashlight I was finally able to orient myself a little.
And then I felt a hand on my shoulder and it was the young man with the machete.
Then he said “ven conmigo padre ven conmigo.”
He was gently telling me to follow him.
With the help of a tiny pen light which he had in his pocket he led me back to church.
The people in Jesus’ time knew what darkness was.
They understood how drastically it could change their lives.
They knew that with darkness came danger and confusion,
and they understood how powerful even a little light could be.
As Jesus spoke they knew how much they needed light, or rather His light, the light of faith.
When Jesus called them the light of the world,
It was very meaningful for them because every last one of them had experienced darkness.
Without Light of Christ our world is scary and disoriented and even dangerous.
When we were baptized our godfather was given a candle and he lit it from the paschal candle or Christ Candle.
When he did this it reminded us that we were being given the light of Christ.
Like that young man who I had most certainly misjudged we are called to hold on to the light of faith given to us at baptism, to nurture it in our own lives, and to share the light of our baptism candle with others.
We are called to help people orient themselves in a world so filled with confusion, and fear, and darkness.
We are called to bring others to the light of faith.
You know we are the biggest Church in this town and if Berlin isn’t a better place because of our presence here at Peck and Alling then we failed.
If we only come to church so that we will feel better,
or because we are afraid not to,
or If we only come to church because we are simply in the habit of doing so,
then we really can’t really say we understand what being the light of the world really means.
There are so many people in our families,
at our places of work, in our church and in the community that need the light faith we have so generously been given.
Without it the world is a dark and scary and dangerous place indeed.
There is so much to think about in those few simple words,
“You are the light of the world.”
The second metaphor that Jesus uses is salt.
The only thing that comes to mind when we hear the word salt these days is the stuff they put on the road or the parking lot.
Let me tell you salt is not cheap.
A couple of months ago my Doctor looked me in the eye and said
Fr. Robert, lay of the salt shaker.
Your blood pressure is too high.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him the name of the real source of my high blood pressure that day.
During Jesus’ time salt was an essential part of life.
There was no refrigeration so meats and fish were dried and preserved in salt.
Without salt you couldn’t eat.
Salt was also used to enhance flavor.
When Jesus said to his disciples “you are the salt of the earth”,
He didn’t mean go out and raise people’s blood pressure.
Rather He was probably asking them to preserve the truth. like people used salt to preserve the food for another day.
It is not our task,
it is not the task of the Church,
it is not the task of the Pope even to create the faith,
Our only task is to be true to it to be true to the profound truths that God has given us.
I know I am not supposed to say this but we all know that food tastes better with salt.
There is nothing better than a pile of mashed potatoes, covered in butter and finished off with a good dose of salt.
May our faith flavor the world
may our faith enhance our lives day in and day out like salt makes things taste better.
By saying you are the salt of the earth
Your are the light of the world
Jesus is calling us,
begging us to preserve the truths,
that he has shared with us
to share it with others.
You are the salt of the earth
You are the light of the world.