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The Word, The Truth

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Homily for Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time, 07 June 2022, Mt 5:13-16

In many of his homilies, Pope Francis has constantly reminded Catholics that the Church does not exist for herself. If she gets turned in on herself and becomes “self-referential”, to use his own vocabulary, the Church deteriorates, he says. This thought applies very well to our parishes; the only way for them to grow is to become missionary and not just remain on “maintenance mode”.

Incidentally, this was the main agenda of a group of people whom I met by zoom yesterday. They call their group ALPHA and they’ve partnered with Fr. James Mallon who published a book recently, entitled DIVINE RENOVATION. Their objective is basically to reawaken Catholics to faith to become confident in doing missionary work.

Today’s Gospel is about what missionary work entails for the community of disciples. We have commonly understood the mission to be about evangelizing, which is correct. Unfortunately, we have tended to equate evangelizing with proselytizing, with recruiting non-Christians to the Christian religion. Whenever I read the Gospels, I always get the feeling that we have somehow been missing the point, that that is not what Jesus meant by mission.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is using two metaphors to describe what the mission is about. He says, “You are the SALT OF THE EARTH; you are the LIGHT OF THE WORLD.” It means, the Church too must serve the same purpose, figuratively speaking.

For salt to have any effect at all on whatever it comes into contact with, it has to be dissolved until it disappears. Salt is not meant to call attention to itself. It achieves its purpose only when it is mixed with food in just the right amount; it does its proper function when it is not even noticed. Otherwise, if it is noticed, it means it has made the food too salty (and unhealthy). Salt is meant only to enhance the natural goodness and flavor of the food that is is mixed with. It is also one of the best agents for food preservation and literally counteracting corruption.

Sometimes, in communities, schools, companies, and institutions, it takes only the quiet presence of a few committed believers to change the direction of the whole group. I think for example of such little initiatives like community pantries, community-based cooperatives, share and care apostolates, “no-one-left-behind” advocacy work, adopting a watershed, etc. When you see how little initiatives can have tremendous and transformative effects on society, especially on the lives of the poor, then you understand what Jesus means about being SALT .

What about the mission to be the LIGHT of the world? It is precisely when it is dark that we are most in need of light. Darkness is a perfect metaphor for the situation of people who are brokenhearted, those whose lives are darkened by the shadows of grief, apathy and hopelessness. I am reminded of the prayer attributed to St. Francis which says, “Where there’s hatred let me bring love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there’s doubt, faith. Where there’s despair, hope.” It is what it means to be light in the midst of darkness.

I know that in Filipino culture, it is a value to be modest and humble. But this value can quickly tirn into a disvalue when it morphs into a false kind of humility. Sometimes there are situations when the community is so much in need of volunteers and nobody wants to present himself for fear that they might be called “mayabang” or “boastful”. I think this is one negative aspect of our culture.

Take note what Jesus says about being light of the world: “You don’t light a lamp and hide it under a bushel basket. Rather you put it on a stand in order to brighten up the room.” In a similar way, he says, “you must let your light shine before people so that they may see your goodness and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

That is what witnessing to the Good News of Jesus is really about. To be that quiet, unobtrusive but effective presence in society. To call attention, not to ourselves, but to God’s goodness at work in us and through us.

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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