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February 9, 2020
[St. John the Apostle & Evangelist Church, Mililani (with Marriage Convalidations); St. John Vianney Church, Kailua]
Some years ago, my grandmother was dying of congestive heart failure. She was in and out of the hospital, and she was not allowed to eat any salt, so she hated the food. The staff told us that she found it so distasteful that she refused to eat when she was alone. However, they noticed that when a member of the family was there, she did eat, albeit with complaints about the food. In a sense, we became her salt, which brought savor to otherwise bland food.
If a mother hears a child crying in the night because he is afraid of the dark, usually all she need do is go into the room, hold his hand and reassure him that everything is OK. She need not even turn the light on. In a sense, she herself is the light for that child, shining in his darkness.
There are so many things in life that are dark and distasteful. Some suffer from the great darkness of depression, and while medical and psychological treatment may be in order, the light that family and friends can shine on the person’s life may ultimately be what breaks through the darkness. (I always wonder how people dealt with depression before there was the practice of psychology. I imagine people who cared just took it upon themselves to be the light that needed to shine in the depressed person’s life.)
We have the distasteful situation in our country and sometimes even in our Church of uncivil discourse and the demonizing of anyone who does not agree with a particular point of view. If there is any hope of this situation moving from insipid sniping to more tasteful dialogue, we ourselves must be committed to being the salt that refuses to let such distasteful behavior prevail.
We have the dark shame of racism, the shadows of corruption, and the heavy night of apathy for the poor and the suffering. If these realities are not to grow even darker, we must be the light that dispels the darkness and breaks through it once and for all.
One of the many reasons the Lord wants us to gather together to hear his Word and be nourished by his Body and Blood is to remind us that we are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This is not for our own sake to let others see how brilliant we are or how tastefully we present ourselves. It is to be light and salt where they are most needed in the lives of our sisters and brothers.
It is true that we ourselves struggle with darkness in our own lives and that we can do some very distasteful things. The Lord knows we are not perfect in this call we have to be salt and light, but he knows that if we ask for healing for ourselves he will grant it abundantly so that his light of love can bring great savor to the world. Married couples and families can strengthen and encourage each other to be salt and light for others, but only if they stay rooted in the Lord. [This is why these couples, who are to become a sacrament of Christ in their marriages, are here today, so that whatever light or salt they lack from their own resources can be more than made up for with the abundant gift of the Lord’s grace and blessing.]
Sharing our bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless, clothing the naked – all these are ways of refusing to let darkness overcome the light. And it is the Lord, as our rear guard, who “has our backs” so that we will never think that we have nothing to offer to others who are in need, never let the savor of his love become insipid, and never hide his light under a bushel basket. It is the Lord himself who reminds us, even when we feel our lives are bland or dark, that he has chosen us to be salt and light so that his love may bring joy to all in the world.