SM Icons

5th Sunday A - Salt and Light


light of the worldGospel Text: Matthew 5:13-16

Michel de Verteuil
General notes
Following on the Beatitudes, this Sunday’s gospel adds some more insights into the qualities of the followers of Jesus. It does this through three images – salt, light (in two phases) and a city built on a hilltop.       
It is a short passage which means that we can spend time on whichever of the images we are drawn to and go deeply into it. Even as we do this, we may find it necessary to refer to the others, as the three complement one another, painting the picture of a perfectly rounded person.
      
As always in the bible, the images are not static and we must discover the movement within them, two movements in fact – one of sin and one of grace. We identify with both movements – repent of the sin and celebrate the grace. In each case we choose who we are identifying with:
       – Jesus and his followers;
       – the people whose lives they touch;
       – Jesus teaching the crowds from the mountain.
The passage is a teaching of Jesus but also a personal testimony revealing to us the kind of person he was, and still is, living in the “Jesus people” we meet. We celebrate them and allow them to challenge us both as individuals and as a Church community.
Textual comments
Verse 13a – “You are the salt of the earth”
Salt of EarthSalt is an appropriate symbol of Christian living from different points of view; this text invites us to focus on one of these – it gives taste.
Remember people who have brought sparkle to your life (“the earth”), at a time when it had become drab.
Apply the image at different levels:
       – the arrival of a new born baby brings reconciliation to a family;
       – a family in distress is cheered up by the visit of a kindly parent, grandparent,
uncle or aunt;
       – a manager or worker brings a new spirit of cooperation between management and labour.
       – a newly elected leader injects idealism into public life;
We can apply the image to groups as well as to individuals:
       – a new movement arises within a parish community or a neighbourhood;
       – an NGO starts a community project which transforms a run-down neighbourhood;
       – a new political party brings hope by campaigning against corruption  or working for
 independence;
       – the Church is converted to the cause  of the  poor and becomes a force for radical change
 in society.
We think of Jesus being “salt” for the Jewish religion of his time, bringing a humanity to it that was lacking. We remember him
       – refusing to let the Pharisees intimidate his disciples;
       – eating with sinners;
       – so fond of feasting that he was accused of being  a “drunkard” and “possessed”.
Remember when someone was Jesus for your community or family.      
All these are stories of grace. The passage then raises another option, a story of sin: the salt becomes tasteless. The text evokes three aspects of the decline:
       a) “Nothing can make it salty again.” Feel the hopelessness – “If he or she (or the community) acts like this, what hope is there for the rest of us?”
       b) “It is good for nothing” – extreme pathos, “They had so much potential, now look at them!”
       c) “It can only be thrown out to be trampled on by men”. Fallen heroes are looked down on in word and deed:
       – a large church building once packed with worshippers is now empty;
       – a great doctor is alone in his office;
       – the seminary has a handful of students;
       – the church is mocked because of clerical scandals;
       – former nationalist leaders turned corrupt and now languish in  prison.
       We think of how the great Jewish religion became mean and narrow minded at the time of Jesus, a “loss of savour” which would recur many times in the history of church:
       – the Crusades;
       – theologians  of the 16th century defending the ill treatment of the Indians;
       – Christian churches not speaking out against segregation in the Southern United States and apartheid in South Africa;
       – church leaders blessing armies  (today again in the “war against terrorism”).
       We celebrate bishops of today who “go up a hill and sit down” to challenge their fellow bishops to be “salt to the earth” by taking a prophetic stance against their governments, e.g. Bishop Gumbleton in the US, and Archbishop Ncube in Zimbabwe.
Verse 14a –  The image of light: “You are the light of the world”      
This image also presents a contrast, this time between “the light” and “the world”, understood as a place of darkness. We remember good people coming into our lives, like day dawning after a long night, or a rescuer arriving with a light when we had been plunged in darkness.
Here the text does not spell out the image, so we can be guided by our experience. We remember our feelings:
        – clarity: we had been lost and confused, then we saw a way forward;
       – joy driving away sorrow;
       – hope: we saw possibilities where before we had seen none.
Verse 14b – “You are a city built on a mountain top”
      
The text brings out one aspect of the image – such a city cannot be hidden.
We are free to imagine the reasons why someone would want to “hide” it.
       – From within, the community is afraid of publicity (“We will become an easy target”), or is over anxious (“Will our message get through?”).
City on Hill       – From outside, an enemy fears the consequences; a tyrant says, “If we let them get away with their freedom, others will want to follow”.
To all Jesus says “You won’t be able to stop it”. Remember when some person or event made you realise this (with fear or relief); that was Jesus speaking to you.
Verses 15 and 16 – second aspect of the image of light, more concrete than the first, a lamp hanging on a lampstand.  We choose who we want to identify with – the owner? the lamp? the people in the house?
       – Verse 15a – The sin option: the owner can put it under a tub, Feel the sadness. Imagine why owners would want to do that. As with the previous image it could be the fear of publicity and the accompanying criticism in case of failure.
       In this case however, there is another possibility – selfishness. The owners hide the light under a tub because they want to keep it for themselves; they can impose charges or conditions on those who will use it. We think of
         – the abuse of the notion of “intellectual property”;
         – resources like water, light and minerals, kept in the hands of a few;
         – the rules of international trade, preventing the free flow of natural goods.
Jesus’ teaching is a radical critique of the modern capitalist system.
       – Verse 15b – The grace option: it shines for everyone in the house. Feel the relief that the light is no longer hidden under a tub. Celebrate the people who hang it on the lamp stand.
       – Verse 16 – Application of the image.
        16a: your light shines in the sight of all. The image must be interpreted in the light of the other images. Jesus is not advocating showiness or putting ourselves forward; this would  go against the images of salt and the city on a mountain top both of which affect others merely by being what they are. We celebrate people who live their values in public but are humble at the same time.
        16b: they see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Be imaginative in interpreting “glorify”. It does not necessarily refer to saying prayers. What it reminds us of is how good people dispel negativity, they make others (including those who belong to other Churches and religions) feel happy and hopeful – “life is worth living”, “there is a God!”. Celebrate the times when people (movements) had this effect on you.

Scripture prayer

       “Be men and women of the world, but not worldly men and women.”   … Jose Maria Escriva 
       Lord, we thank you for the people who have been as salt for us,
       bringing life and joy to our lives
       – families,
       – neighbourhoods
       – workplaces
       – Church communities.
       Remembering them and their good works makes us glorify you, our Father in heaven.
       Lord, we remember with immense sadness people who have ruined their lives
       with alcohol, drugs, fanaticism.
       We see them lying on the side of the road,
       no one can bring them to be what we know they are capable of becoming;
       people are trampling them underfoot.
       Lord have mercy.
       “The sons and daughters of the Church must return with a spirit of repentance  for the acquiescence given, especially in certain centuries, to intolerance and even the use of violence in the service of the truth.”    …Pope John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente
       Lord, we ask forgiveness for the times, both past and present,
       when your Church did reject the dominant values of its time
       and was not salt to the earth.
       No wonder idealistic people have scorned us,
       trampling your people underfoot as Jesus foretold.
       “The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth as it wins over the mind with both gentleness and power.”     …Vatican II, Declaration on Religious Freedom
      
Lord, in our modern Western culture
       groups spend much time, money and energy on public relations.
       We pray that we may not follow this trend in our efforts to attract  more people to join us.
       Help us to concentrate rather on being true to the best of ourselves,
       remembering that a city built on a mountain top cannot be hidden.
       “The world has enough to satisfy every person’s need, not enough to satisfy every person’s greed.”  …Gandhi 
       
Lord, forgive us that many people nowadays

       see their talents as opportunities for making money.
       They hide them under a tub
       so that they can ration them out to the highest bidder.
       The result is that your abundant gifts are not being shared.
       We pray that your church may be the voice of Jesus in the world,       reminding our contemporaries that you have lit lamps in the world,
       not to be hidden under a tub,
       but so that they can be put on a lamp-stand and shine on everyone in the house.
****************************************
Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration
My friends, we have gathered here because we have heard and answered the invitation of Jesus, the Anointed One. Gathered we become his people, his body, his presence in the world. We are called to act in the world like salt: giving flavor through its presence. We are called to be a light to those around us. We are called to reflect the goodness of our heavenly Father. So let us begin our gathering by recalling our identity as the community of the baptized.
Homily notes
1. Salt’, ‘light’, a ‘shining city on a hill’: three wonderful metaphors for the relationship of each community of Christians to the larger society in which it finds itself. It is a relationship whereby the Christian community is distinct within the larger society and offers it a service it may not even know it needs and might be unwilling to declare that it wants. Our society is fine, one can hear people say, and it does not need a group of Christians thinking that they have the light or that they are a model of what our society should be. For our part, many of us Christians would rather keep our heads down, point out that it makes no difference that we are Christians to what we are like as neighbours, employees, or officials.
2. This situation of Christians being a small, identifiable group within a larger society was taken for granted at the time the gospel was written, and indeed survived until well into the fifth century. Then, for more than a millennium, the situation that Christians experienced was radically different: the com­munity and the Christian community became virtually co­terminous. Indeed, the distinction between Christians / non­Christians was often replaced by the distinction of ‘ church’ (meaning the clergy, sometimes formally established as an estate) / state or the distinction of altar / crown. Now, with the occasional exception, that identification of church community and larger society has disappeared. We still hear people re­ferring to ‘Christian countries’ but they just mean back­ground culture, while we as Christians should be quick to deny that simply belonging to a country can be seen as being part of the body of Christ.
heaven12_93. However, we are left with a few conundrums. First, we have little experience of being a sub-group within society; and we are often far happier thinking of ourselves as the group that gives form to society. Second, we have many mechanisms/ practices in our communal behaviour / pastoral strategies that served us well when we as the Christian community and we as a secular society were almost identical; but little by way of experience in being a servant of the larger society.
4. Just noting this new, or relatively new, situation, and helping people to recognise it as a factor in how they think of them­selves, is a first step today.
5. Only when we can think of ourselves as having many ‘be­longings’ can we think of how we, in a particular community, can be of service. We have to learn to steer between three sets of rocks. First, the Christians cannot separate themselves out from society at large as if they are an elect sect, ‘the saved’. This is an option that many sects have taken over the cent­uries, but it ignored the fact that the whole universe is the creation of the Father. The Christ’s love and forgiveness reached out to all, and we are called help the society give praise to the Father, not to abandon it. The second danger is to imagine that there is no distinction between the values of the larger society and that of the community of the church; life is simple if the Christians just disappear and adopt the current trends. We have a distinctive vision that the universe is good, it is loved by the Father, and there is the good news that can transform how we view life. The third set of rocks is to imagine that we can only relate to a society that signs up in detail to our vision. We must work with all people of good will, knowing that the Spirit is always at work before us, be­yond our reach, and in ways we cannot see.
5. We are called today – in every place in the developed world ­to learn an aspect of being Christians that, for the most part, never even bothered our parents or grandparents. But part of the good news is that in every learning curve there is the Spirit’s presence to be called upon to bring light in our darkness.
***********************************
John Litteton
Gospel Reflection
The gospel reading invites us to reflect on the significance of the light of Christ in our lives. The image of worldly light is used to communicate the deeper meaning of the light of Christ. Light dispels darkness. It gives us confidence because it points us in the right direction. It enables us to see things as they are.
We often take light for granted. Usually we do not notice it until, suddenly, we are without it. Whenever we experience power-failures we are reminded that we are particularly dependent on light for clear vision and we realise how necessary light is in our everyday lives. The real value of light, then, is to be found in its brightness, which provides us with direction.
Jesus used the image of light when speaking to his disciples. He told them that they were the light of the world, just as he was their light. By imitating his teaching and example in their own lives they could, like light, offer guidance and direction to other people. This was because they knew where they were going. The disciples were to share and reflect the light of Christ, which would give light to the world.
What is the light of Christ? The light of Christ is our guiding light. We feel secure in the light of Christ as it directs us through life. It is the teaching of Christ that motivates us to live in imitation of him. The light of Christ is God sharing his life and love with us. It is the life of Christ that is shared with us in the Eucharist: the living bread that has cone down from heaven giving life to the world.
The light of Christ offers people meaning  and hope. It highlights the love that can be found in the goodness of life. It challenges us to live God-like lives, lives without sin. It offers us consolation and reassurance because it assures us that Christ is near at all times.
Jesus light of worldWe are as much disciples of Jesus as those to whom he spoke in the gospel. Each one of us is being challenged to be the light of the world. But we are also being commissioned collectively, as members of Christ’s Church, to be the light of the world. We are the light of the world when we are decent and respectful towards other people and when we live according to the teaching of Christ and his Church. We are invited to see in a new light.
Seeing in a new light is about seeing in a new perspective, God’s perspective. It is about behaving in a different way. Therefore, let us see in a different light and let our light shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing our good works, they may give praise to our Father in heaven.
For meditation
You are the light of the world. (Mt 5:14)
*******************************
Donal Neary SJ:  Salt for the Eucharist
In Galilee around the time of Jesus, there was a flourishing fish­ing industry. Peter, James and John were part of it, and they were big-time fishermen. Fish from Galilee went all over the then known empire, and to Rome along the trade route, which went through Galilee. It was kept fresh, as much food was, as we kept food fresh for years before freezers – by salting it. The word of God is kept fresh within us by prayer; otherwise our Christian life may become weak and tasteless.
A big food of Jesus is the Eucharist. His bread of life can go stale unless we ‘salt’ it. We salt the Eucharist by our lives. We keep the Mass alive by the way we live.
The Eucharist is entrusted to us. God gives us his Son, his food, and leaves it to us how we live by it.
Jesus invites us to be the ‘salt of the earth’ – to be people whose lives are centred on helping others and making the places around us places of kindness, compassion, hope, fun and life. We don’t say ‘You’re salt of the earth’, if someone just receives communion. We are the salt of the earth if we live out our com­munion. The bread of Jesus is salted with the goodness of men and women, young and old, everywhere.
Our response then links in with the first reading – if we feed, shelter, clothe and help our neighbour, we are ‘the light that rises in the darkness’.
******
1.     Andrew Greeley

Background:
During the next several Sundays we here Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain” –his account of the tradition which Matthew renders in his Sermon on the Mount. There was obviously an earlier tradition of a compendium of the sayings of Jesus which, as it was handed on, emerged in two somewhat different forms.

Matthew edited one version and Luke another. Despite different settings and wordings (Matthew has eight beatitudes, Luke has four beatitudes and four woes) both have the same theme: a description of the kind of lives the followers of Jesus will live if they trust in Jesus’s revelation of God’s love.

The beatitudes are not normative, not new obligations to be added to the commandments. Rather they are descriptive, new insights into the possibility of life when one trusts in God as Jeremiah says in the bible.

Story:
Once upon a time there was a gifted young man from an impoverished background that set out to prove himself. He studied hard, work his way through college and business school, and dedicated himself to success in the company that hired him. Because he combined street smarts and intellectual shrewdness, he was extremely successful and rapidly moved up in the company, becoming a senior vice president before he was forty.

He married a fine woman and they had three splendid children, though he had little time for them, so determined was he to make it to the top. In the process he earned a lot of money and piled up valuable stock options.

Just ten more years, he promised his wife, then I’ll be able to relax and enjoy life. All our kids will be out of college by then. I’ll make it all up to them, he promised. Neither the wife nor the kids believe him.

Then on the day of his 40th birthday he keeled over with a heart attack and almost died.

Too much stress the doctors said. You’ve got to leave your company and settle back to a more relaxed life. I can’t he pleaded, I’ll be the next CEO! I can’t pass up that opportunity. You’ll be a dead CEO the doctor replied unless you change your life style. I can’t, the man said, I must make it to the top.
Buy the best insurance you can get the doctor replied because your wife will be a widow before you’re forty five.

2.     Connections

THE WORD:
Unsalted popcorn and an electrical power outage are all that we need to appreciate Jesus' message in today's Gospel reading (the continuation of the Sermon on the Mount). Through the images of salt and light, Jesus impresses upon his listeners the vocation of Christians: As I am salt and light to the world, so you, as my disciples, must reflect me to the world.
Salt and sun, of themselves, are not good for very much and can even be harmful.  Their value is realized only when they mix or interact with other things.  Their addition brings out the fullness of whatever they come in contact with.
A handful of salt brings out the natural flavor in every kind of food, from filet to popcorn.  The four ounces of salt in our bodies enable our muscles to contract, our blood to circulate, our hearts to beat.  Salt purifies and softens, cleans and preserves.  Salt is an important element in making glass, building roads, manufacturing soap and shampoo, bleaching paper and cooling nuclear reactors.  Salt is used both in freezing and in de-icing.  There are over 14,000 uses of salt -- but of and by itself, salt is useless.  Eating a handful of salt does not taste particularly good – it might even make you sick to your stomach.
Light’s true beauty is realized only when we look away from its source and toward what it illuminates.  Light transforms the cold terror of night into the warm assurance of day.  Light enables us to discover, to study, to discern, to behold the beauty of our world and the wonders of God’s creation.  Light warms, nurtures, sustains, reveals, cheers.
Salt is perhaps the most humble of all chemicals; light is among the most generous of all physical properties.

HOMILY POINTS:
To be “salt for the earth” is to bring Christ’s compassion and hope into our homes, workplaces, schools and communities; our simplest acts of charity can be a “light” for our world and unmistakable evidence of the presence of God among us. 
Jesus’ call to his followers to be “salt” and “light” for the world is a challenge to live the Gospel we have heard and profess to believe.  Until our hopes for justice become our work for justice, until our prayers for peace and unity in the world are first lived in our own home and community, until our professed belief in God as Father of all affects every one of our relationships, we are as good as flavorless salt, we are as useful as light hidden away under a basket. 

Humble salt, generous light
Ever eat a handful of salt?  Or drink a glass of ocean water?
Of course not.  Salt by itself does not taste particularly good -- it might even make you sick to your stomach.
Ever look directly at the sun or into a bright, burning bulb?  Not without doing permanent damage to your eyes.
Salt and sun, of themselves, are useless.  Their value is realized only when they mix with other things.  Their addition brings out the fullness of whatever they come in contact with.
That handful of salt, acrid tasting of itself, can bring out the natural flavor in every kind of food, from filet to popcorn.  The four ounces of salt in our bodies enable our muscles to contract, our blood to circulate, our hearts to beat.  Salt purifies and softens, cleans and preserves.
Light’s true beauty is realized only when we look away from its source and toward what it illuminates.  Light transforms the cold terror of night into the warm safety of day.  Light enables us to study, to discover, to behold the beauty of our world and the wonders of God’s creation.  Light warms, nurtures, sustains, reveals, cheers.
Salt is perhaps the most humble of all chemicals; light is among the most generous of all physical properties.
In calling us to become salt and light for the earth, Jesus asks us to embrace that same humility and generosity.  Those who are “salt of the earth” are not those we admire for their virtue or holiness -- they are the ones who bring out the goodness in us and everyone else.  Those who are a “light for the world” divert attention from themselves in order to illuminate the goodness of God in our midst.  To become “salt” in the spirit of Christ is to bring forth the “flavor” of God in everyone and everything; to be “light” that is a true reflection of Christ is to illuminate the presence of God in the midst of the dark and the cold, the hidden and the unclear.  
[From Know Me, Hold Me, Sing to Me: What My Grandchild Taught Me About God by Kathleen Chesto.]

3.     ACP:

(Salt of the earth; the light of the world – the example of Christians helps our unbelieving world.)
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Letting the light shine
In India when two people meet, instead of shaking hands as we do in the West, they have a graceful custom of joining their hands, as if in prayer, and bowing towards each other, a gesture which appears so meaningful and full of respect. Perhaps the best way to counter the sign of the clenched fist, mentioned today by Isaiah, is with the sign of the joined hands, which denotes generosity and respect, and one might even say readiness to pray for others. If you allow your life to be moulded by such attitudes, then indeed “your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadows become like the noonday.” The gospel is even more emphatic when it says, “Your light must shine before others, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.”
There might seem, however, to be a contradiction between this saying about “letting your light shine,” and the fact that Christ spent all his own life–with the exception of three years–in the obscurity of the remote village of Nazareth, and that seemingly with little effect, for the inhabitants refused obstinately to see him as anything other than the carpenter, the son of Mary. So much so, as St Mark tells us, that Jesus himself was amazed at their incredulity. “He could work no miracle there because of their lack of faith,” (Mk 6:5f). How consistent is Jesus, if he cautions me not to hide my light under a tub, while all that time at Nazareth he seemed to act like the man in his own parable, who received but one talent and was condemned for not putting it to good use. The message of his quiet life in Nazareth is not easy to unravel. What Jesus was called upon to practise at Nazareth was the heroism of the ordinary, the daily, often dull, routine, which requires its own kind of courage. Nazareth then was the scene of a hidden life, the ordinary everyday life of a family, made up of work and prayer, marked only by hidden virtues, and only God and Christ’s closest relatives and neighbours were witnesses to any of it. Here in fact we have mirrored the lives of the majority of us. What sets Jesus apart from the rest of us is that he possessed the one basic talent, beside which all others are worthless. This was his ability to remain in God, to anchor his whole life firmly in the Father, to let the Father be the guiding force in his life. In his own words, “The Son can do only what he sees the Father doing, and whatever the Father does the Son does too” (Jn 5:19). But this close relationship with God is not something we can earn, or plan for ourselves. It is God’s miracle, God’s doing. It is like the man in the parable, who scatters seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps or when he is awake, the seed is germinating, sprouting, growing. But how, he does not know. Concealment, we might even say, is the way God’s glory is revealed in the world. So for the people of Nazareth, Jesus would remain just “the carpenter;” while it was only through the mystery of the resurrection that the light of Christ’s true identity was revealed to his chosen disciples. So it was too with many of the great saints, who never tried to create an impression of holiness, but strove inwardly to remain always close to God, “in loving attentive expectancy,” as St John of the Cross said. These words could admirably describe the short life of another great Carmelite saint. Therese of the Child Jesus died at the age of 24, after nine years in her Convent at Lisieux.
Very few people took notice. According to her natural sister, Pauline, several of the other nuns even said that Teresa had been doing nothing, had come to Carmel seemingly to amuse herself. Yet in the following twenty years this community sent out over 750,000 copies of her Abridged Life, and 250,000 copies of The Story of a Soul, the account of her life written under obedience by Teresa herself. Within less than thirty years she had been canonised a saint in Rome before 50,000 people in St Peter’s Basilica and an estimated half million in the Square outside. Two years later little Teresa Martin who had never once left her convent was proclaimed Patroness of the Foreign Missions. How did this come about? Reflecting on St Paul’s assertion that there are three virtues which endure, faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love, Teresa saw her mission in life. “In the heart of my mother, the Church,” she said, “I shall be love.” And in the concealment of her convent God’s glory was to be revealed in a special way before the whole world.

5. From Fr. Tony Kadavil's Collection:

1 Life messages

1) 
We need to be the salt of the earth:

a). As the salt of the earth, the Christian must be an example of purity in speech, in conduct, and even in thought. b) As the salt of the earth, the Christian must have a certain antiseptic influence on life and society, defeating corruption, fighting against injustice and making it easier for others to avoid sin. c) As salt preserves foods, we have to preserve the religious faith, Christian cultural values and moral principles, which Jesus has given us, and we need to work at reconciling the quarreling factions in families and communities. As the salt of the earth, we also have to add flavor to the lives of desperate people through outreach programs, to give meaning to the lives of people and boosting their morale, to offer them occasions to help others, and finally to give hope where there is no hope. 

2) We need to be the light of the worldThe second role of Christians is to receive the light of Christ and radiate it to people all around us in the form of love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness and humble service. With a little bit of Christ’s Light, we become a veritable lighthouse, illuminating the way for many and removing the darkness caused by hatred, spite and jealousy. We radiate Christ, the Light of the world, by our kindness and respect for others with different ethnic backgrounds, different lifestyles, other faiths or no faith at all.  

*************
ILLUSTRATIONS:

From Sermons now:


There are all kinds of theories about how to motivate people.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Sutton hadn't won a game in eight weeks. A critical press was suggesting that he be dropped from the starting lineup. The future looked bleak, and Sutton felt terrible. Then, before a game, Dodgers manager Walter Alston tapped him on the shoulder. "I'd like to speak with you, Don," he said. Sutton prepared himself for the worst.

"Don," said Alston, "I know how the past couple of months have been for you. Everyone's wondering whether we can make it to the play-offs . . . You know there's a lot of pressure . . . I've had to make a decision." Sutton had visions of being taken off the mound. Then Alston continued. "If the Dodgers are going to win this year," he said, looking Sutton in the eye, "they're going to win with Don Sutton pitching. Come what may, you're staying in the starting job. That's all I wanted to say."

Sutton's losing streak lasted two more weeks, but because of his manager's encouragement he felt different about it. Something in him was turning around. He found himself pitching the best ball of his career. In the National League pennant drive, he won 13 games out of 14. 

There are all kinds of theories about how to motivate people. We can do it through guilt, through fear, through shame. But these were not Jesus' methods. Jesus motivated through positive messages of hope and encouragement. 

Consider our lesson for today. Jesus says to his followers, "You are the light of the world. . . ."
___________________________

What's your favorite color? Is it more 450? Or do you tend towards 600? Maybe even 700?

In case those numbers don't immediately mean anything to you, on the visible spectrum scale for light 450 nanometers means "blue," 600 is yellow, and at 700 nanometers you are seeing red.

But we don't "see" numbers, do we? We see the beautiful, variable, illuminating colors that light takes on as it is refracted and reflected before our eyes. We don't experience nanometers. We bask under a blue sky? Or we bath in wonder at the beauty of a sunset that melts from orange to red to crimson and purple. Whether we catalogue light as 550 nanometers or perceive it as "green" is all a matter of perspective. Are we dissecting the idea of "light" into its most basic components (measured nanometers)? Or are we responding to the expression of that light as we experience it in the world (colors)?

In Matthew's account of the "Sermon on the Mount," immediately after Jesus lays out his "blessed be" Beatitudes, he lifts up two metaphors of how disciples of the kingdom will be known to this world. They will be the "salt of the earth," they will be the "light of the world," a light that will "shine before others." Salt sharpens flavors. Light sharpens both sight and insight. Jesus is calling would-be followers of the kingdom to sharpen lives by living on the sharp, the cutting edges, the places where new perspectives, new tastes, and new visions are embraced.

Light does not just banish darkness and illuminate corners and crevices. Light also works to provide a new perspective...
_________________________
Humor: The Language of God

There was a mother mouse who decided to teach her children about the world. So she gathered all of her little mice and set out for a walk. They walked down the hall and turned to the right. Then they went down the hall and took another right. And suddenly they found themselves in front of the family cat dozing in the sunlight. The mother mouse was scared. But she didn't want to give in to her fright. So she signaled to the children to be very quiet and to follow as she began to tip toe quietly and slowly past the sleeping cat. Just as she was about to get past the cat, the cat's eyes popped open and raised its paw.
The little mice were petrified. What would their mother do? Well, just as the cat's paw started to come down, that mother mouse looked the cat right in the eye and started barking like a dog. And do you know what? The cat was so startled and frightened that it jumped up and ran away! The mother mouse, wiped her brow, shook a little and then turned to her little mice and said, "Children, I hope you learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes it's good to know a second language!"

It's the same way with us. It's good to know a second language. Salt and light are the language of God; the language of Grace; the language of hope and love. And when this language is translated into action it becomes the most beautiful language ever spoken. We're called to be salt and light and to speak the language of God as we live our faith. We're called to live the Word.

Billy D. Strayhorn, The Salt and Light Brigade 
____________________________________

Reflect the Light
In an article entitled "Reflect the Light," Roble Nebres tells about the time he drove to the summit of Mt. Haleakala. After watching the sunset it became dark and he became anxious about the descent down the steep, winding road. When he left the parking lot the median strips on the road suddenly came alive with reflectorized lights. They provided a much needed directional guide on the mountain road.

The reflectors illuminated the way for Nebres, who made his descent safely down the treacherous mountain road. The reflectors, however, were useless without his headlights shining on them. The light they gave depended on the light from another source. Otherwise they could not help him see.

When Jesus told his disciples they were the "light of the world," he meant they were to be reflectors of the light of God. God is the illuminating source. God provides the light that is reflected from us. And God needs us to be reflectors of God's light to a world of darkness.

Keith Wagner, Are We Hiding Our Faith?
______________________________________
Legalism

The story is told of a little girl who went to visit her grandparents. It seems as though they held Sunday as the Lord's day, and holy. They thought it should be a day of quietness, to walk, not run in it, and that the Bible was the only book that should be read. The granddaughter could not swing nor gather the flowers that grew in the pasture. While grandpa was taking his nap, she asked for permission to walk to the gate, and received it. Along the fence she stopped to watch the old mule, standing with his head bowed and his eyes closed. Reaching through the fence, she said, "Poor old fellow, have you got religion, too?"

Unfortunately, that is how many view Christianity. They are completely turned off by the legalism which has crept in unawares. Worst of all, perhaps, is the fact that we Christians are guilty of thinking of it as a virtue, rather than a vice.

Bob Deffinbaugh, The Fatal Failures of Religion: #2 Legalism
_________________________________________
The Temptation We Face Everyday

"One night at the end of a special Saturday night worship service," writes Warren Hudson of Ontario, Canada, "a thunderstorm unleashed a bolt of lightning that plunged the church into darkness." With the congregation seated in total darkness, the pastor felt his way to the kitchen to find some candles. The pastor handed out the candles to everyone present. Persons lit their candles in much the same way as many churches do on Christmas Eve, each person lighting the candle of the person next to them. The worshipers then made their way through the church's winding hallways to the front door.

"Peering out, we could see the rain coming down in sheets," Warren remembers. With traffic snarled, people were running for the nearest shelter. Looking around they realized that the entire city was in darkness. "There in the darkness we stood," Warren writes, "a little band of Christians, each clutching a light, not sure whether to venture out into the storm or stay inside the church in hopes that the storm would soon blow over."

There in the darkness the light of truth struck him. In this most dramatic way he realized what it means to be the "light of the world." He writes, "It occurred to me then that this is the temptation I face every day. It is easy to play it safe and be a good Christian in church. It is a lot harder to venture out in faith into the storms of the world."

Warren Hudson, adapted by King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
_____________________________________
A Better Influence
One of my favorite Peanuts cartoons showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown. She said, "Guess what, Chuck. The first day of school and I got sent to the principal's office. It was your fault, Chuck." He said, "My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?" She said, "You're my friend, aren't you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me."

Eric S. Ritz, Salty Christians 
_____________________________
Where Is the Church?

John Stott, from Great Britain and a leading Reformed theologian, has these challenging words to say to the church today:

You know what your own country is like. I'm a visitor, and I wouldn't presume to speak about America. But I know what Great Britain is like. I know something about the growing dishonesty, corruption, immorality, violence, pornography, the diminishing respect for human life, and the increase in abortion.
Whose fault is it? Let me put it like this: if the house is dark at night, there is no sense in blaming the house. That's what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is, "Where is the light?"

If meat goes bad, there is no sense in blaming the meat. That is what happens when the bacteria are allowed to breed unchecked. The question to ask is, "Where is the salt?"

If society becomes corrupt like a dark night or stinking fish, there's no sense in blaming society. That's what happens when fallen human society is left to itself and human evil is unrestrained and unchecked. The question to ask is "Where is the church?"

John Stott, adapted by Adrian Dieleman, The Salt of the Earth
__________________________________
Humor: Do You Sell Salt?
In his book Led by the Carpenter, D. James Kennedy writes:

"A man walked into a little mom-and-pop grocery store and asked, 'Do you sell salt?'

'Ha!' said Pop the proprietor. 'Do we sell salt? Just look!' And Pop showed the customer one entire wall stocked with nothing but salt. Morton salt, iodized salt, kosher salt, sea salt, rock salt, garlic salt, seasoning salt, Epsom salts, every kind imaginable.

'Wow!' said the customer.

'You think that's something?' said Pop with a wave of his hand. 'That's nothing! Come look.' Pop led the customer to a back room filled with shelves and bins and cartons and barrels and boxes of salt. 'Do we sell salt?' he said.

'Unbelievable!' said the customer.

'You think that's something?' said Pop. 'Come! I'll show you salt!' Pop led the customer down some steps into a huge basement, five times as large as the previous room, filled floor to ceiling, with every imaginable form and size and shape of salt, even huge ten-pound salt licks for the cow pasture.

'Incredible!' said the customer. 'You really do sell salt!'

'No!' said Pop. 'That's just the problem! We never sell salt! But that salt salesman? Hoo-boy! Does he sell salt!'"

Phil Thrailkill, The Privilege and the Price
___________________________________
Changing the World
It was during the early days of television. A workman was placing television transmitters at the very top of the Empire State building in New York City. Seeing him at work up there, so far off the ground, a reporter thought this would make a fascinating human interest story. So, when the workman had completed his task and had returned to the ground, the reporter approached him and asked, "Aren't you frightened to work under conditions like that that? Isn't it dangerous to work so high off the ground?" The workman replied, "Yes sir, it is dangerous." Then he added...“But then, how many people can say that they have changed the skyline of a city like New York!”
After relating that story, James McCormick comments: God offers us the privilege of changing the skyline not of a city, but of the world. We can help make this world healthier, more humane, more harmonious, and more blessed. God made a good world. Now He wants us to help Him make it good again. We can do that. By God’s grace, we really can do that. If we can, surely we must. The skyline of New York City can be changed by workmen building up the Empire State Building or by terrorists
tearing down the Twin Towers. All it takes is the vision and the determination to do it. The same can be said of this human society. Yes, God made us all good but we have to decide what we are going to do with God’s good gifts. 
All too often, I hear decent people talk and act as though evil is more powerful than good. What a lie! As St. Paul once said, where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more. When good people give evil so much power, they can let themselves get by with shirking their responsibility to change this world.
Sure, it is not easy once we and our society have become so immersed in sin. Sure, it is a burden to fight off the habits of selfishness and fear and vengeance and sexual abuses and greed and comfort seeking and polluting or you name any other of the modern-day deadly sins that have us in their grip. However, as the bishops at the Second Vatican Council said, it is a “splendid burden.”
The victory can be won. We can change the “skyline” of humanity. And, as McCormick said, “If we can, surely we must.” Never again let good people entertain the lie that we and this world are just the way we are and we cannot change.
Love, Fr. John
***
From Fr. Jude Botelho:

In the first reading from Isaiah, the prophet speaks plainly about what is expected of the true believer. In earlier Jewish history, fasting and fast days were part of the liturgy, in which rich and poor ‘humbled’ themselves before God. The rich fasted and expected a divine reply in the form of greater prosperity. They asked why God did not answer their prayer. In today’s reading the prophet tells them that for fasting to be acceptable to God it must be meaningful. Genuine fast before God requires the social awareness and concern spelled out by the prophet. “Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, clothe the man you see naked….then your light will shine like the dawn.” It is by such actions that genuine worship gives glory to God.

Be not simply good…

Alexander Solzhenitsyn recalls, as he says, ‘with shame’, an incident he witnessed when he was captain in the Russian army. “One day I saw a sergeant of the secret police on horseback, using a whip on a Russian soldier who had been captured serving in a German unit. The man, naked from the waist up, was staggering under the blows, his body covered in blood. Suddenly he saw me and cried out: “Mister Captain, save me!” “Any officer in any army in the world should have put a stop to this torture, but I was a coward. I said nothing, I did nothing. This picture has remained in my mind ever since.” He could have brought light into a dark situation but he didn’t. “Be not simply good”, says Thoreau, “be good for something.”

Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’


Today’s gospel speaks of the practical implications of being followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus uses simple images which would be easily understood by his Palestinian followers. “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world.” His listeners knew how essential salt was in those days. In fact people traded in salt as they traded in silver and gold. Salt was essential to flavour and preserve food. Its absence in food was immediately noticeable. Light too played an essential function of enlightening, guiding, and making ordinary tasks possible. What Jesus is saying through these images is that his disciples have an essential function to play in the world. When Jesus spoke of letting our light shine among men he was not speaking of parading our good works, or of attracting attention to ourselves. Our good deeds should inspire others to do what needs to be done in their own lives. Our deeds do not have to be spectacular because even little deeds done regularly can make a difference in peoples’ lives. As Christians we have a very positive role to play in the world. Shedding light and witnessing to the light not only makes people see things clearly but it also puts our own life under the spot light; we can be vulnerable and exposed. Just as salt is worthless if it loses its saltiness and light is useless if it is kept under covers, so the Christian life is meaningless unless faith is witnessed in love and concern for others. Religion is no private affair between me and my God. Our lives have to impact others and lead them to God.

“Mr. Lincoln has left his lights on”

A mother and her small child once drove past the restored home of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield. It was night and the national shrine of the United States was brightly lit. “Look mama,” the child said excitedly, “Mr. Lincoln has left his lights on.” The mother smiled. “Yes” she replied; “he left them on for the whole world to see.” Although Lincoln has been dead since 1865, he is still a tremendous inspiration to all people. But in a much more true sense Christ, ‘God from God, Light from Light’ remains and will remain to the end the shining beacon for all peoples of all times. Christ has shared his light with us his disciples and asks us to be what we are: 
“the light of the world.”
Vima Dasan


As Dear as Salt
An aged king who had three sons decided to choose his successor. To test his heirs he inquired how much they loved him. “More than the world’s wealth!” exclaimed the first. The second declared. “Greater than all the wisdom the world holds!” The youngest said, “As dear as salt.” Infuriated, the king exiled him and bequeathed the kingdom to his eldest son. Later, fortune favoured the banished son and he became king in another faraway kingdom. But he missed his father and longed to meet him. Years later, he invited his father –very old by then – for a banquet and ordered that sumptuous dishes be prepared, but without any salt. When the old king came to the palace, his son pretended to be away and the courtiers requested the king to begin feasting. The aroma of the food pleased the king, but, when he tasted it, he was aghast- it was tasteless, saltless! Angry, he demanded an explanation for the insult. His son-king appeared in his regalia, and the old king recognized him, realizing his indiscretion. – Jesus tells you, today, that you are not only ‘as dear as salt’ but “You are salt! You are light!”

Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’


“Are you God?”

Joe had always been a helpful neighbour and so the lady next door asked him if he could drive her little son to the hospital. Actually Joe had other plans but he did not know how to say no. So he sat the little boy into the car seat, fastened his seat belt, and started off on the 50-mile trip to the hospital. As they were driving along, the little boy slowly turned to Joe and asked, “Are you God?” Startled, Joe said, “No.” The boy continued, “I heard my mommy asking God for some way to get me to a doctor. If you are not God do you work for him?” Joe replied, “I guess so sometimes. And now that you ask, I will be doing it a lot more.” Gandhi said, “If I had ever met a genuine Christian, I would have become one immediately.” Jesus commanded that people must see our good deeds. Jesus did not say we should become the salt of the earth, but we are the salt of the earth. He was telling us the way He wanted to find us daily.
John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’

Let your light shine

A poor Scottish farmer named Fleming heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog and found a terrified boy, mired up to his waste in black muck. Fleming saved the child from what could have been a slow horrible death. The next day a fancy carriage pulled up at his home and an elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Fleming saved. “I want to repay you” said the nobleman for saving my son’s life.” “No I can’t accept payment for what I did.” said the Scottish farmer. At that moment, the farmer’s son came to the door of the family hovel. “Is that your son?” the nobleman asked. “Yes.” The farmer replied proudly. “I will make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education that my son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he will no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.” And he did. Farmer Fleming’s son attended the very best schools and in time graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School, London University, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the man who discovered Penicillin. Years afterward, the same nobleman’s son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time? Penicillin. The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill. Let us be the salt of the earth; and let our light shine before others.
John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’

“That’s a mistake!”

A young lady asked for an appointment with her priest to talk to him about a besetting sin about which she was worried. When she met him, she said, “I have become aware of a sin in my life which I cannot control. Every time I am at Church I begin to look at other women, and I realize I am the prettiest one in the whole congregation. None of the others can compare with my beauty. What can I do about this sin?” The pastor replied, “Mary, that’s not a sin, that’s just a mistake!”

John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’

****
From Fr. Tony Kadavil's Collection:


1: Salt and light: The story of EWTN is the story of a brave woman who had the courage of her conviction that she should be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  Mother Angelica (who died in 2016), started broadcasting Catholic TV for just a few hours a day in 1981 from the garage of her Poor Clare Monastery in the US. The project grew and grew, and now, after thirty-nine years, the Eternal Word Television Network is available twenty-four hours a day all over the world by cable and satellite. Mother Angelica is an example of a true Christian living out her Faith as salt to preserve Christian values and to provide the modern world with a purifying mass medium. She kept putting her lamp on the lampstand so that Christ’s Light would shine for everyone in the modern global village. With the death of Mother Angelica on Easter Sunday, the Church has lost the most charismatic American Catholic media personality of her time, as well as someone who proved beyond any doubt that a determined and savvy woman can, after all, wield real power. For much of the 1980s and 1990s, she was simply the most riveting Catholic figure on the airwaves. She was a simple nun, with a profound Faith, and one courageously dependent upon God’s grace to supply what was needed. Her life and deeds were miraculous. Mother Angelica regularly attributed the success of EWTN to God’s providence, but the history of the operation reveals savvy business decisions that helped “this miracle of God” to become the multi-million-dollar global media conglomerate it is today. That those decisions were made by a woman without much previous power in the Church is notable.

2: Blessed Mother Teresa’s salt and light: David Porter writes on Mother Teresa: “She was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (AG-nes GOHN-jah BOY-yah-jee-oo), to Albanian parents in Yugoslavia. . She went to India in 1929 as a member of the Loreto Order of nuns, after learning English in their Motherhouse in Dublin Ireland. There, she taught for many years and became principal of the school. In 1946, she received her ‘call within a call’ to work with the poorest of the poor. By 1948, she had received permission to leave the Loreto order and had trained in the nursing skills she would need to carry out her calling. She prayed, “Oh God, if I cannot help these people in their poverty and their suffering, let me at least die with them, close to them, so that I can show them your love” [Mother Teresa: The Early Years, 67; cited by Caroline J. Simon, “The Media and Mother Teresa,” Perspectives, 12 (March, 1997), 3.] Simon notes: “From this simple beginning, the Missionaries of Charity have grown to include 4,500 Sisters and Brothers, 755 homes for the children, the sick, the destitute and the dying and 1,369 medical clinics that serve 120,000 worldwide.” We too can become the salt of the earth and the light of the world as Mother Teresa did.

3: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton: Getting Closer to God Means Serving Others: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, had a long and difficult journey into the Catholic faith. She lived around 1800 and was part of New York high society both by birth and also by marriage. As a young wife and mother, she felt a profound spiritual restlessness. A non-Catholic Christian, she longed for a deeper relationship with Christ, but didn’t know where to find it. A series of Crosses, including her husband’s death, led her to the Catholic Church, where she found what she was looking for in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Converting to Catholicism led her to be criticized and ostracized by friends, social circles, and even family members. But her deeper intimacy with Christ made the suffering worthwhile. Instead of falling into discouragement or self-pity, in fact, she found herself moved to start a new religious order dedicated to educating the young. Thus, was born the Sisters of Charity, which now has five major divisions in the United States and Canada. And thus, also began the American system of Catholic education, which today (2011) includes over 7,000 elementary and secondary schools throughout the United States. God wants to bring flavor and light to the world, and the closer we get to his Sacred Heart, the more our hearts will burn with that same desire. [Information for this Illustration was garnered from Fr. Charles P. Connor’s “Classic Catholic Converts.”] (E- Priest).

4: Is your salt salty and your light shining? If you doubt your light matters, take this little quiz: 1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world. 2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners. 3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America Pageant. Do you know all these answers? Probably not. Ask yourself some additional questions: 1. Who fed and clothed you when you were helpless? 2. What was the name of your 1st grade teacher? 3. Who is the first friend you would call in an emergency? You do know the answers to these questions. They are the salt and light of the world.

5. Business is business: Angela was nearing 60 and was in her final year of teaching in the public school. She was a devout Christian who missed teaching from the Bible. Because she was worried about how little her class knew about religion, Angela decided she was going to disregard the new regulations and teach some religion. She told her class that she would run a contest. She would give £50 to whoever could tell her who the greatest man was who ever lived. Immediately Isaac a Jewish boy began to wave his hand, but Angela ignored him in favor of those in her Sunday school class. As she went around the room, Angela was disappointed with the answers she got. Jane, her best scholar, picked Noah because he saved all the animals. Others said, “I think the greatest man who ever lived was Alexander the Great because he conquered the whole world.” and “I think it was Thomas Edison, because he invented the light bulb.” Finally, she called on Isaac who still had his hand in the air. “I think the greatest man who ever lived was Jesus Christ.” said Isaac. Angela was shocked but still gave him the £50 reward. As she did so, she said, “Well, Isaac, I’m very surprised that you should be the only one with the right answer. How come?” “Well, to tell you the truth,” Isaac replied as he pocketed the money, “I think it was Moses, but business is business.”
34- Additional anecdotes:

1) Your Faith rests not on the wisdom of men: During the Nazi era in Germany, one of the strongest Catholic leaders in the German Reich was Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber (1869-1952). An able Bible professor, he long taught courses on the Old Testament in the University of Strassburg. Then in 1911 he was named bishop of Speyer, and in 1917, Archbishop of Munich. Pope Benedict XV raised him to the rank of Cardinal in 1921. A few years after Faulhaber received the “red hat,” Adolf Hitler began to rise into power. The Cardinal held Hitler in little esteem. As a nobleman, he disdained this Austrian upstart; as a churchman he disapproved of his ideology. In the early 1930’s when Hitler’s Nazis began to peddle their deadly philosophy, the Cardinal boldly condemned racism, neo-paganism and totalitarianism from his cathedral pulpit, basing his sermons on the scriptures with which he was so familiar. Particularly notable was his Advent sermons of 1933, in which he emphasized that Christianity had its roots in Judaism. As an intellectual, Cardinal Faulhaber was also not at all uncomfortable in conversing, and even sparring, with other savants. There is a famous story of his chat with the great Nobel physicist – Jewish but agnostic -Albert Einstein (1879-1955). Einstein and the Cardinal met on one occasion, and during their conversation the scientist said: “I respect religion, but I believe in mathematics. Probably it is the other way around with your Eminence, isn’t it?” “No,” Faulhaber quietly replied, “to me both are merely different expressions of the same Divine truth.” But Einstein responded, “If mathematical science should prove one day that some of its findings are in direct conflict with religious beliefs what would you say then?” “Oh,” said the Cardinal with a smile, “I share the highest regard for mathematicians, and I am certain that in such a case you people would never rest until you found out where your mistake was!” St. Paul says much the same to us in today’s second reading. “Your Faith rests not on the wisdom of men but on the power of God.”(Fr. Robert F. McNamara).
2) The salt and the light are still at work when we “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”(John Wesley’s advice). We taste salt and see light when we receive the following Franciscan blessing: “May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half- truths, and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and the exploitation of people, so that you may wish for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.” (Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 14).

3) Korean, American and Chinese Christians: As you know, the majority religion in America is still Christianity, and yet we are dominated today not by the values of Christianity, but by the values of humanism and secularism. Yet, in Korea, even though there are 35 million Buddhists, and only two million evangelical Christians, Christian values dominate that culture. Why is that? It is because Korean Christians understand they are to be the salt of the earth. A Chinese Christian came to a missionary one time and said, “I have learned to quote the entire Sermon on the Mount by memory.” He stood before the missionary and perfectly quoted the sermon word-for-word. The missionary said, “That is wonderful. How did you practice it in your life?” The Chinese Christian said, “I spent the last year trying to live it.” Dr. James Stewart, a great British preacher, once said: “The greatest threat to Christianity is not Communism, atheism, materialism, or humanism. It is Christians trying to sneak into Heaven incognito without ever sharing their Faith, without ever living out the Christian life as salt of the earth and light of the world.” This is exactly the problem Jesus was trying to remedy with the part of the Sermon on the Mount on the Beatitudes.

4) Saints are people who let the light shine through: A little boy was taken by his mother to see a famous cathedral. On the windows were the pictures of various Christians. As he was watching the sunbeams shining through the stained-glass windows, he asked his mother, “Who are those people on the windows?” She said, “They’re saints.” The little boy looked at the windows and said, “Well, now I know what saints are. They are people who let the light shine through.” That little boy got it right. That’s what a saint is-someone who lets the light of Jesus shine through his life.

5) Be eagles soaring through the clouds of holiness: There is a story about a duck that broke his wing during the flight home for the winter. A sympathetic farmer retrieved the fallen duck and took him home. The farmer’s children adopted the duck as their pet and began to feed him from the table and take him along as they performed their daily chores. By the next fall, the children were heartbroken as they watched the duck look at the other ducks who were flying south for the winter, but his wing still wasn’t strong enough for the flight. Every time a flock flew south, the duck would look longingly into the sky and then return to play with the children. Well, the second year the duck’s wing had grown much stronger, but the children had fed the duck so well that when he attempted to take off he was too fat to get off the ground. After one or two attempts he gave up and returned to play with the children. The third year the duck was completely healed. But as the other ducks quacked their call to go south, the duck never even looked up as they flew over. He had become so accustomed to the comfort of his new existence he had lost his focus on the true calling and meaning of his life. God has not called us to be fat ducks, satisfied with a world that is going to go up in smoke. God has called us to be eagles soaring through the clouds of holiness; shaking out the salt of a godly life; shining out the light of the truth of Jesus Christ and bringing as many men as we can to glorify our Father in Heaven.

6) “I love Jesus and Gospel tapes”: After the Los Angeles riots, Steve Futterman of CBC Radio broadcast an interview he had had with one of the many looters in the riot. The man had been one of many people who had looted a record store. When asked what he had stolen, the man replied, “Gospel tapes. I love Jesus.” (“Quotes & Comments,” The United Church Observer, Sept. 1992, p. 48.) Our text for the day is about people who love Jesus, but hopefully in a more positive way than did this looter. Jesus defined his followers as the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.”

7) “It made a difference for that one.” While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance learning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a little boy. When he got closer, he discovered what the boy was doing. The kid was picking up starfish off the beach and throwing them back into the ocean. The man walked up to the kid and said, “What are you doing?” The boy said, “I am saving starfish.” “But,” said the man, “the beach goes on for miles and miles, and there are millions and millions of starfish. What difference does it make?” The little kid reached down, picked up one more starfish, tossed it into the ocean and simply said, “Well, it makes a difference to that one.” No one of us in this Church can do everything, but all of us in this place can do something in our homes and communities that the light of Christ may shine in the world.

8) Christmas lights of Wauconda, Illinois: Wauconda, Illinois is a small town with a population of 6500. For the past 45 years the town had placed two large illuminated crosses on the city water towers during the Christmas season. Then, last year, the town council received a threat of legal suit if the crosses were continued, based on the separation of church and state. The town council grudgingly took them down. But that’s when the citizens of Wauconda took matters into their own hands. They decided to place lighted reminders of Christ on their own property. So, all over the community, up went crosses and nativity stars and lighted manger scenes and trees. You could see Wauconda from the interstate freeway! You could see Wauconda a hundred miles away. All night it was as bright as day because the people decided to turn on the lights. In our Scriptural text for this morning, Jesus is urging us to turn on the lights. Each of us is supposed to shine for Christ’s sake. Our light is not like that of the sun. Our light resembles that of the moon; it is a reflected light, from Christ who lives within us.
9) Sanders was a tither radiating the light of Christ. Football player, Barry Sanders, was signed by the Detroit Lions in 1989. He was right out of college. Many eyebrows were raised when his contract was announced at $6.1 million for five years. But the real objection came when Sanders was also given an immediate signing bonus of $2.1. million. Critics said that Sanders was greedy. Objections were somewhat silenced, however, when word leaked out that Sanders had sent a check for $210,000 to his little Baptist church in Wichita, Kansas. Sanders was a tither. Both the size of that check and the fact that it was the first one he wrote turned on some lights for the Kingdom.

10) A wartime story. One of the boldest and most dramatic decisions of World War II was made by Admiral Marc Mitscher in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Late in the afternoon of June 20, 1944, Mitscher had dispatched a bombing mission against the fleeing Japanese fleet. It was pitch dark when the first of the flyers began returning to their carriers. But with the fleet under strict wartime blackout regulations and the pilots’ fuel supplies running dangerously low, many of the flyers would never be able to find their way back to their carriers. Admiral Mitscher took a calculated risk. He turned on the lights. One returning flyer described the scene as a “Hollywood premier, Chinese New Year’s, and Fourth of July all rolled into one.” For two hours the planes landed. Some eighty pilots, out of gas, ditched in the sea but close enough to the carriers that few were lost. When we are bold enough to turn on the lights for Christ, despite the costs and the risks, lost souls are won for our Lord and our city is electrified with His power.

11) This little light of mine, am I going to let it shine? A university professor was invited to speak at a military base in December. He was met at an airport by an unforgettable soldier named Ralph. This is the professor’s story: “After we introduced ourselves to each other, we headed toward the baggage claim area. But Ralph kept disappearing. Once he stopped to help an older woman with her baggage. Once he stopped to lift two toddlers up to see Santa Claus, and again, he paused to give directions to someone who was lost.” Finally, I said, “Where did you learn that?” “What?” asked Ralph. “Where did you learn to live like that?” Ralph replied, “During the war I was in Vietnam. My job was to clear the mine fields. You never knew which step might be your last, so I learned to live between the steps. I guess I just keep living that way.” This little light of mine, am I going to let it shine?

12) Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. “Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.  He grew up in another village.  He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty, and then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.  He never owned a home.  He never wrote a book.  He never held an office.  He never had a family.  He never went to college.  He never put his foot inside a big city.  He never traveled 200 miles from the place he was born.  He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.  He had no credential but himself.  While he was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him.  His friends ran away; one of them denied him.  He was turned over to his enemies.  He went through the mockery of a trial.  He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves.  While he was dying his executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth – his coat.  When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.  Twenty long centuries have come and gone, and today he is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress.  I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever were built, all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.” (Author unknown)

13) Lighting a light rather than cursing the darkness: Terry Fox was a 22-year-old student at Simon Fraser University in Canada. In 1977, he developed bone cancer and had to have his right leg amputated. When his old high school basketball coach heard about the tragedy, he sent Terry a newspaper article about an amputee who ran in the New York Marathon. The article triggered Terry’s imagination. He knew he had only a few years to live, and he wanted to do something significant with them. He decided he would try to run across Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia, a distance of 5,000 miles. He would ask people to sponsor him and give the proceeds to cancer research. For 18 months, Terry practiced running on the artificial leg. Finally, on April 12, 1980, he began his run. He dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic and set out across Canada. In his pocket he had pledges totaling over a million dollars. Then 114 days and 3,000 miles into the run, Terry suddenly collapsed. The cancer had spread to his lungs. He would be unable to complete the run. When news of Terry’s collapse broke, people from all over Canada began sending pledges to him in the Hospital. In hours, over $24 million was pledged. A few days later, Terry died. If anyone had a right to curse the darkness, it was Terry. But he was too big for that. He decided to light a candle. And that light has been shining ever since. A movie has been made of his life. A stamp has been issued in his honor. And he is the youngest person ever to receive his nation’s highest honor, the Order of Canada. To this day, Terry still excites the imagination of people (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies).

14) Keeping the lights on: A mother and her small child once drove past the restored home of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield. It was night and the national shrine of the United States was brightly lit. “Look, mama,” the child said excitedly, “Mr. Lincoln has left his lights on.”  The mother smiled. “Yes” she replied; “he left them on for the whole world to see.” Although Lincoln has been dead since 1865, he is still a tremendous inspiration to all people. But in a much more true sense Christ, “God from God, Light from Light” remains and will remain to the end the shining beacon for all peoples of all times. Christ has shared his Light with us his disciples and asks us to be what we are: the light of the world. (Vima Dasan; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

15) Salt (NaCl): Sodium is an extremely active element found naturally only in combined form; it always links itself to another element. Chlorine, on the other hand, is the poisonous gas that gives bleach its offensive odor. When sodium and chlorine are combined, the result is sodium chloride–common table salt–the substance we use to preserve meat and bring out its flavor. Love and truth can be like sodium and chlorine. Love without truth is flighty, sometimes blind, willing to combine with various doctrines. On the other hand, truth by itself can be offensive, sometimes even poisonous. Spoken without love, it can turn people away from the Gospel. When truth and love are combined in an individual or a Church, however, then we have what Jesus called “the salt of the earth,” and we’re able to preserve and bring out the beauty of our Faith. (David H. Johnson).

16) Be not simply good…Alexander Solzhenitsyn recalls, as he says, “with shame,” an incident he witnessed when he was captain in the Russian army. “One day I saw a sergeant of the secret police, on horseback, using a whip on a Russian soldier who had been captured serving in a German unit. The man, naked from the waist up, was staggering under the blows, his body covered in blood. Suddenly he looked at me and cried out: “Mister Captain, save me!” “Any officer in any army in the world should have put a stop to this torture, but I was a coward. I said nothing, I did nothing. This picture has remained in my mind ever since.” He could have brought light into a dark situation, but he didn’t. “Be not simply good”, says Thoreau, “be good for something.” (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

17) Love brings trouble: It’s been said that when we love people and go out to help them, we become vulnerable. That’s what the wealthy industrialist Charles M. Schwab declared after going to court and winning a suit at age seventy. Given permission by the judge to speak to the spectators, Schwab made the following statement: “I’d like to say here in a court of law, and speaking as an old man, that nine-tenths of my troubles are traceable to my being kind to others. Look, you young people, if you want to steer away from trouble, be hard-boiled. Be quick with a good loud ‘no’ to anyone and everyone. If you follow this rule, you will seldom be bothered as you tread life’s pathways. Except you’ll have no friends, you’ll be lonely, and you won’t have fun!” Schwab made his point –love may bring headache, but it’s worth it because we are the light of the world. (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

18) Copper Kettle Christian: A woman in Bible study related that when she recently went into her basement, she made an interesting discovery. Some potatoes had sprouted in the darkest corner of the room. At first, she couldn’t figure out how they had received enough light to grow. Then she noticed that she had hung a copper kettle from a rafter near a cellar window. She kept it so brightly polished that it reflected the rays of the sun onto the potatoes. She exclaimed, “When I saw that reflection, I thought, I may not be a preacher or a teacher with the ability to expound upon Scripture, but at least I can be a copper kettle Christian, catching the rays of the Son and reflecting his light to someone in a dark corner.” (Brian Cavanaugh in Sower’s Seeds of Encouragement; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

19) Choosing Life: Dr. Victor E. Frankl, survivor of three grim years at Auschwitz and other Nazi prisons, has recorded his observations on life in Hitler’s camps. “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Victor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

20)”Now I believe!” One day a man visited St. Teresa of Calcutta’s (Mother Teresa) home for the poor and the dying in Calcutta. He arrived just as the Sisters were bringing in some of the dying off the streets. They had picked up a man off the gutter, and he was covered with dirt and sores. Without knowing that she was being watched, one of the Sisters began to care for the dying man. The visitor kept watching the Sister as she worked. He saw how tenderly she cared for her patient. He noticed how, as she washed the man, she smiled at him. She did not miss a detail in her attentive care of that dying man. After carefully watching the Sister the visitor turned to Mother Teresa and said, “When I came here today, I didn’t believe in God, and my heart was full of hatred. But now I am leaving here believing in God. I have seen the love of God in action. Through the hands of that Sister, through her tenderness, through her gestures which were so full of love for that wretched man, I have seen God’s love descend upon him. Now I believe.” We make God present to others by being the salt of the earth and light of the world. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

21) As Dear as Salt: An aged king who had three sons decided to choose his successor. To test his heir, he inquired how much they loved him. “More than the world’s wealth!” exclaimed the first. The second declared. “Greater than all the wisdom the world holds!” The youngest said, “As dear as salt.” Infuriated, the king exiled him and bequeathed the kingdom to his eldest son. Later, fortune favored the banished son, and he became king in another faraway kingdom. But he missed his father and longed to meet him. Years later, he invited his father –very old by then – for a banquet and ordered that sumptuous dishes be prepared, but without any salt. When the old king came to the palace, his son pretended to be away, and the courtiers requested the king to begin feasting. The aroma of the food pleased the king, but, when he tasted it, he was aghast- it was tasteless, saltless! Angry, he demanded an explanation for the insult. His son-king appeared in his regalia, and the old king recognized him, realizing his indiscretion. – Jesus tells you, today, that you are not only ‘as dear as salt’ but “You are salt! You are light!”
(Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

22) Let your light shine: A poor Scottish farmer named Fleming heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog and found a terrified boy, mired up to his waste in black muck. Fleming saved the child from what could have been a slow horrible death. The next day a fancy carriage pulled up at his home and an elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Fleming saved. “I want to repay you” said the nobleman for saving my son’s life.” “No, I can’t accept payment for what I did.” said the Scottish farmer. At that moment, the farmer’s son came to the door of the family hovel. “Is that your son?” the nobleman asked. “Yes,” the farmer replied proudly. “I will make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education that my son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he will no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.” And he did. Farmer Fleming’s son attended the very best schools and in time graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School, London University, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the man who discovered Penicillin. Years afterward, the same nobleman’s son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time? Penicillin. The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill. Let us be the salt of the earth; and let our light shine before others. (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

23) St. Teresa’s invitation to come be His light: Saint Teresa of Calcutta received an inspiration from Our Lord to found the Missionaries of Charity and bring his Light to the poor and ailing of Calcutta. In her spiritual diaries, Saint Teresa described this invitation by Our Lord as an invitation to come be His light (see Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta, by Mother Teresa and Brian Kolodiejchuk). When she saw the squalor in which the poor of India lived, she felt Our Lord asking her to bring His Light into the darkness of those holes (Ibid). She once said, “Words which do not give the Light of Christ increase the darkness” Even though her spiritual diaries show she experienced an intense spiritual darkness for much of her life, no one who knew her could see it in the way she treated others. She was always a shining beacon of joy, love, and peace. (source: http://www.catholic.org/clife/teresa/quotes.php). (E- Priest)
24) “Digital Humanity” One Catholic layman recently showed that he understands this truth deeply. Reflecting on the Vatican’s insistent call to Catholics to use new media for good and not for ill, he got an idea. He envisioned a social-networking community that would be built around the Golden Rule: Do unto others what you have them do unto you. This is a moral principle present, in some form or other, in all cultures and almost all religions. But even though almost everybody agrees with it, almost nobody makes a concerted effort to follow it. So this Catholic businessman started a social networking web site called “Digital Humanity” or “DigHu” [dih-joo]  [http://www.dighu.com/home.php]. The site is built around members who record their “daily dighus” – daily good deeds done to better the world one step at a time. Here are some examples of recent posts: [You may want to go to the site to see more recent posts or to look for ones that would be interesting for your parishioners.] Paulie posted: “Stopped to check on the inhabitants of a car that spun out.” PACMAN posted: “Covering the shift of a fellow employee on my off day.” Nicole S posted: “Washed the dishes without complaining.” The theory behind the site is simple: people need encouragement to do what they know they should be doing, and social network sharing of daily dighus may be able to help provide that kind of encouragement. It’s a new web site, and still small. But imagine how pleased our Lord must be with that Catholic layman, who had the courage and creativity to come up with a new way to try and obey Christ’s admonition in today’s Gospel: “Your Light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” He is someone who has decided to live his God-given mission actively, without delay. (E- Priest)

25) “I give them Jesus.” St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) was speaking to persons who had come to meet her from all over the world. Among those to whom she spoke was a group of religious sisters from many North American orders. After her talk she asked if there were any questions. “Yes, I have one,” a Sister sitting near the front said. “As you know, most of the orders represented here have been losing members. It seems that more and more women are leaving all the time. And yet your order is attracting thousands upon thousands. What do you do?” Without hesitating Mother Teresa answered, “I give them Jesus.” “Yes I know,” said the woman, “but take habits, for example. Do your women object to wearing habits? And the rules of the order, how do you do it?” “I give them Jesus,” Mother Teresa replied. “Yes, I know Mother,” said the woman, “but can you be more specific?” “I give them Jesus,” Mother Teresa repeated again. “Mother,” said the woman, “we are all of us aware of your fine work. I want to know about something else.” Mother Teresa said quietly, “I give them Jesus. There is nothing else.” (Margaret Davidson, Scholastic, 1971. Cited in BTBC, pp. 250-251.) We Christians have something the world cannot find anywhere else. It is Jesus, the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

26) Rose Hawthorne Makes a Splash: The story of Rose Hawthorne, daughter of the famous nineteenth century American author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, illustrates the influence of example. Rose’s family of origin was not even Christian, but Unitarian. The family traveled to Italy when Rose was just a girl, and the beauty of the art, architecture, and Catholic culture there impressed them. But at the same time, the mediocre lives of the Catholic Christians they met there turned them off. Nathaniel Hawthorne actually wrote about this, commenting on how little effect this beauty seemed to have on the people: “I really wonder that Catholics are not better men and women.” But if the bad example of some Catholics turned off Nathaniel Hawthorne, it was the good example of some other Catholics that led his daughter Rose to discover her calling. She and her husband became Catholic soon after their marriage, and Rose found herself deeply impressed by the visible presence of women consecrated entirely to God and the Church: Catholic nuns. After her husband passed away, she became a nun herself, actually founding the Hawthorne Dominicans for the Care of Incurable Cancer – a congregation still going strong today. One rule of this congregation is that they do not accept any money from a patient’s family, as that could end up prejudicing them towards wealthier patients. That example of totally unselfish service made an impression on another famous American writer from the nineteenth century – Mark Twain. He was so impressed by Rose’s work, in fact, that even though he was not a Catholic himself and had inherited a strong prejudice against Catholicism, he became one of Rose’s first and steadiest benefactors. As Catholics, the example of what we do and how we do it can either draw people closer to God or push them further away. ( Fr. Charles P. Connor’s “Classic Catholic Converts.”] E- Priest.

27) Dodgers are going to win with Don Sutton pitching. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Sutton hadn’t won a game in eight weeks. A critical press was suggesting that he be dropped from the starting lineup. The future looked bleak, and Sutton felt terrible. Then, before a game, Dodgers manager Walter Alston tapped him on the shoulder. “I’d like to speak with you, Don,” he said. Sutton prepared himself for the worst. “Don,” said Alston, “I know how the past couple of months have been for you. Everyone’s wondering whether we can make it to the play-offs . . . You know there’s a lot of pressure . . . I’ve had to make a decision.” Sutton had visions of being taken off the mound. Then Alston continued. “If the Dodgers are going to win this year,” he said, looking Sutton in the eye, “they’re going to win with Don Sutton pitching. Come what may, you’re staying in the starting job. That’s all I wanted to say.” Sutton’s losing streak lasted two more weeks, but because of his manager’s encouragement he felt different about it. Something in him was turning around. He found himself pitching the best ball of his career. In the National League pennant drive, he won 13 games out of 14. There are all kinds of theories about how to motivate people. We can do it through guilt, through fear, through shame. But these were not Jesus’ methods. Jesus motivated through positive messages of hope and encouragement. Consider our lesson for today. Jesus says to his followers, “You are the light of the world. . . .” (Sermons.com).
28) They have changed the skyline of a city like New York!” It was during the early days of television. A workman was placing television transmitters at the very top of the Empire State building in New York City. Seeing him at work up there, so far off the ground, a reporter thought this would make a fascinating human interest story. So, when the workman had completed his task and had returned to the ground, the reporter approached him and asked, “Aren’t you frightened to work under conditions like that that? Isn’t it dangerous to work so high off the ground?” The workman replied, “Yes sir, it is dangerous.” Then he added…“But then, how many people can say that they have changed the skyline of a city like New York!” After relating that story, James McCormick comments: God offers us the privilege of changing the skyline not of a city, but of the world by becoming the Light of the world. We can help make this world healthier, more humane, more harmonious, and more blessed. (Fr. Kayala).

29) What’s your favorite color? 450? 600? Or 700? In case those numbers don’t immediately mean anything to you, on the visible spectrum scale for light 450 nanometers means “blue,” 600 is yellow, and at 700 nanometers you are seeing red. But we don’t “see” numbers, do we? We see the beautiful, variable, illuminating colors that light takes on as it is refracted and reflected before our eyes. We don’t experience nanometers — we bask under a blue sky! Or we bath in wonder at the beauty of a sunset that melts from orange to red to crimson and purple. Whether we catalogue light as 550 nanometers or perceive it as “green” is all a matter of perspective. Are we dissecting the idea of “light” into its most basic components (measured nanometers)? Or are we responding to the expression of that light as we experience it in the world (colors)? In Matthew’s account of the “Sermon on the Mount,” immediately after Jesus lays out his “blessed be” Beatitudes, he lifts up two metaphors of how disciples of the kingdom will be known to this world. They will be the “salt of the earth,” they will be the “light of the world,” a light that will “shine before others.” Salt sharpens flavors. Light sharpens both sight and insight. Jesus is calling would-be followers of the kingdom to sharpen lives by living on the sharp, the cutting edges, the places where new perspectives, new tastes, and new visions are embraced. Light does not just banish darkness and illuminate corners and crevices. Fr. Tony Kayla).

30) “Sometimes it’s good to know a second language!” There was a mother mouse who decided to teach her children about the world. So, she gathered all of her little mice and set out for a walk. They walked down the hall and turned to the right. Then they went down the hall and took another right. And suddenly they found themselves in front of the family cat dozing in the sunlight. The mother mouse was scared. But she didn’t want to give in to her fright. So, she signaled to the children to be very quiet and to follow as she began to tip toe quietly and slowly past the sleeping cat. Just as she was about to get past the cat, the cat’s eyes popped open and raised its paw. The little mice were petrified. What would their mother do? Well, just as the cat’s paw started to come down, that mother mouse looked the cat right in the eye and started barking like a dog. And do you know what? The cat was so startled and frightened that it jumped up and ran away! The mother mouse, wiped her brow, shook a little and then turned to her little mice and said, “Children, I hope you learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes it’s good to know a second language!” It’s the same way with us. It’s good to know a second language. Salt and Light are the language of God; the language of Grace; the language of hope and love. And when this language is translated into action it becomes the most beautiful language ever spoken. We’re called to be Salt and Sight and to speak the language of God as we live our Faith. We’re called to live the Word. ( Billy D. Strayhorn, The Salt and Light Brigade).

31) Salt of the earth Mike Ilitch helping Rosa Park: Those who knew Mike Ilitch, the Little Caesars founder and Detroit Tigers owner who died last Friday, [February 10, 2017], have spent the past few days fondly remembering his impact on friends, on Detroit residents, and on the sports community. Ilitch also had an impact on the daily life of one of the most iconic figures from the civil rights movement. For more than a decade, Ilitch had quietly paid for Rosa Parks’ apartment in downtown Detroit, according to CNN affiliate WXYZ. That story came to light thanks to Damon Keith, a Detroit native and federal judge. Shortly after her famed defiance of segregation sparked the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott, Parks moved to Detroit and became an important presence in the city for years afterward. But in 1994, Parks was robbed and assaulted in her home at the age of 81. Keith, himself an important legal figure in the civil rights movement, worked to find Parks a new, safer apartment at the Riverfront Apartments in Detroit, according to the Sports Business Daily. Ilitch read the story in the newspaper and called Keith, offering to pay for Parks’ housing indefinitely. With no fanfare, Ilitch continued paying for the apartment until Parks died in 2005, Keith said. (http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/15/us/mike-ilitch-rosa-parks-trnd/)

32) “You are my sunshine”: Like all good parents, when Karen and her husband found that another baby was on the way, they did what they could to help their three-year old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling. When they found the baby was going to be a girl, they would gather Michael in their arms and he would sing to his sister in Mummy’s tummy the only song he knows, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.” The pregnancy progresses normally, then the labour pains, but complications arise during delivery. Finally, Michael’s sister is born but she is in serious conditions. The days inch by but the little girl gets worse. The pediatric specialist tells the parents, “There is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst.” Michael Keeps begging to see his sister. “I want to sing to her,” he pleads. But children are not allowed in the ICU. Finally, Karen makes up her mind. She will take Michael to the hospital whether they like it or not, figuring that if he doesn’t see his sister now, he may never see her alive. She dresses him and marched him to the ICU, but the head nurse bellows, “Get that kid out of here now!” Karen glares into the nurse’s face, her lips a firm line, “He is not leaving until he sings to his sister!” Michael gazed at the tiny infant losing the battle to live, and begins to sing in the pure-hearted voice of a three-year-old: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are grey…” Instantly, the baby responds. Her pulse rate becomes calm and steady. Keep on singing Michael! “You never know dear how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.” The baby’s ragged, strained breathing becomes as smooth as a kitten’s purr. Michael’s little sister relaxes at rest, -healing rest seems to sweep over her. Keep on singing Michael! Tears conquer the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glows. Funeral plans are scrapped. The next day -the very next day- the little girl is well enough to go home! – In an article about the incident, Woman’s Day magazine called it “the miracle of a brother’s song.” Karen called it a miracle of God’s love. The medical staff simply called it a miracle. We call it the Lazarus story all over again. Love is stronger than death. (William Bausch in The Word In and Out of Season; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

33) ‘Keeper of the Flame.” Sometime ago the Los Angeles Times carried a moving story by reporter Dave Smith. It was about a modern Christian who put God first in his life, other people second, and himself third. His name is Charlie DeLeo. After returning from Vietnam, he got a job as maintenance man at the Statue of Liberty. Charlie told the reporter that part of his job is to take care of the torch in the statue’s hand and the crown on the statue’s head. He has to make sure that the sodium vapor lights are always working and that the 200 glass windows in the torch and the crown are always clean. Pointing to the torch, Charlie said proudly, “That’s my chapel. I dedicated it to the Lord, and I go up there and meditate on my breaks.” But Charlie does other things for the Lord, as well. He received a commendation from the Red Cross after donating his 65th pint of blood. And since hearing of the work of Mother Teresa in India, he has given over $12,000 to her and to people like her. Charlie told the Los Angeles Times reporter: “I don’t socialize much; don’t have enough money to get married. I don’t keep any of my money. After I got my job, I sponsored six orphans through those children’s organizations.” Charlie ended by telling the reporter that he calls himself the “Keeper of the Flame” of the Statue of Liberty. Later a park guide told the reporter: “Everybody knows Charlie is special. When he first gave himself that title, people smiled. But we all take it seriously now. To us, he’s exactly what he says: ‘Keeper of the Flame’.” Jesus in today’s gospel passage, challenges us to be the keeper of his flame. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies).

34) An encounter with true Christian light: President Woodrow Wilson once told the story of his encounter with true Christian Light. He said: “I was in a very common place.  I was sitting in a barber chair, when I became aware that a powerful personality had entered the room.  A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself, to have his hair cut, and sat in the chair next to me.  Every word the man uttered, though it was not in the least didactic, showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him.  And before I got through with what was being done to me, I was aware that I had attended an evangelistic service, because pastor Dwight L. Moody was in that chair.  I purposely lingered in the room after he had left and noted the singular effect that his visit had brought upon the barber shop.  They talked in undertones.  They didn’t know his name, but they knew something had elevated their thoughts, and I felt that I left that place as I should have left a place of worship.”