Sunday, February 6, 2011

You are the salt, you are the light!

Salt and Light by Bernie Rosage, used with permission
Visit the artist's blog to see more of his work!

Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
(Scritpures for today's liturgy)

Audio for homily


(In the course of preaching this homily I used several visuals: 
pouring from a canister of Morton Salt into a bowl; a salt shaker,
a giant light bulb, a bushel basket, and a candle.  You'll notice, too,
that at those points I depart a bit from the text below.)

Note carefully what Jesus says here - and what he doesn’t say:
he doesn’t tell us to become the salt of the earth,
he doesn’t tell us to be like the salt of the earth…
and he doesn’t tell us become the light of the world
or to reflect the light of the world…

Rather, he says:
we ARE the salt of the earth
and
we ARE the light of the world.

We are the salt…

Salt brings out the flavor in food
it brings out the best in what it seasons.
But when salt goes flat, or when there’s too little, it’s of no use;
or, if there’s too much salt it ruins what it tries to season…

We are the light…

Light allows us to see what there is to be seen
what is beautiful, what is true.
and light brings the warmth of the energy which is its source.
But when our light dims, we see only in shadows
and when we hide our light it no longer serves anyone
and the warmth begins to chill…

These are strong and vital images Jesus uses
and he uses them to describe us,
to speak of what he sees us to be.

In any year or season these are good and challenging words to hear.

As a Christian, as a Catholic:

- How does my presence season the lives of those around me?
(Recall the four major tastes we know: sweet, sour, salty, bitter!)
- What flavor do I bring to the culture I live in?
- Is my salt fresh enough? or has it gone stale? become bland?
Or do I oversalt and ruin what I try to season?

- What light and warmth do I bring to my family and neighbors?
to my classmates at school? to my colleagues at work?
- Does my presence help others see the beauty of what’s to be seen?
the truth of what’s to be known?
- Or do I shade the light others need for vision, for warmth?

Good and hard questions in any season, at any time,
but Lent is less than a month away and with Lent will come
Catholics Come Home
and a unique opportunity for each of us to be
the salt of the earth and the light of the world
for those who have drifted away from the life and prayer of the Church.

There will be ads on the radio and on television
and we’ll have some special parish programming as well.
But the heart of this program will rest in your hands,
the hands of you who are the salt of the earth, the light of the world.

And it seems to me we’ll need to heed Jesus’ advice in the gospel here.

We’ll need to make sure that there’s a freshness about our own salt.
We’ll need to make sure that we don’t bring out the old salt
gone flat with anger and disappointment and disagreement.
We’ll need to share the salt of what keeps us here,
what keeps us together -
and invite others to join us.

And some of us may need to be careful not to smother others
in our salty enthusiasm: too much salt can ruin things.
Just a shaker of fresh salt, shared… that’s what we need.

And we’ll need to share with others the light and the warmth
we find in our faith and in our sharing it together here.

The clouds of anger and disappointment and disagreement
already cloud the skies above us all,
we need to look for the ways in which the light still reveals to us
the beauty of what we believe and the warmth we find in sharing it.

And some of us may need to be careful not to shine our light too brightly!
And if any of us have hidden our light
under the bushel basket Jesus spoke of,
it will be time to take it out to share with those who have been away.

It’s this table and the Word we share here
that keeps the salt of our faith fresh and alive.

It’s the light of this altar’s sacrament that reveals Jesus to us
and holds us in the warmth of his presence in the Eucharist.

Pray with me that the salt and light each of us is
will help those who have drifted away come home to the Table
and to the sacrifice of praise we offer here together
in Christ, every Sunday.

 
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5 comments:

Philomena Ewing said...

Austin, it's wonderful to hear you say these words as well as read them.
What were you pouring the mountain of salt onto ?
I could hear the chuckles as you did it...!!as also they did with the light - it must have been very bright.

If I was a Catholic "wanting to come back" and I listened to this I think your candle would definitely light the way. I pray with you that all those who have drifted will meet you at the table soon.
Blessings

Austin Fleming said...

I was pouring the salt into a bowl and was pleased that even in our large church it made for a decent visual!

Philomena Ewing said...

Terrific. I am chuckling myself here.
What are you planning to do for the transfiguration ?

Austin Fleming said...

It will involve a transporter from the Star Trek series. That's all I'm allowed to say right now.

Philomena Ewing said...

That's OK - You're secret is safe with me, but can I book a ticket in advance please ?

Blessings