We are made and meant to shineSunday Mass Readings Podcast of Readings Video Reflections Lecturas y Comentarios Sunday Readings Bible StudyPrayer of the HoursBQ: What commandments require restitution?
Sunday Readings for Feb. 6, 2011 (5A)
By Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S.
In one of the high mountains of Switzerland. the villagers who lived nearby built a beautiful church with great care. But there was something strange about the church – it did not have lights! Yet every Sunday evening the people who lived on the mountain opposite the church saw something magical. The church bell would ring and the worshippers would wind their way up to the mountainside towards they church. They would enter the church and suddenly it would light up brightly. The light would come from the many lanterns that the worshippers brought along and hang on pegs set on the high walls. If only a few people came, the light would be dim. But when many people came, the church would be flooded with lights.
After the Sunday worship, the villagers would take their lantern home. For the people living on the mountain opposite the church, it was as if a stream of light poured out of the church and over to the mountainside. This was a sight to behold. But the secret of the magical light was this: God’s light was lit by tiny lanterns carried by each of the worshippers.
This is the essence of Jesus’ words in today’s gospel. True, Jesus is the light of the world. Our faith, however, makes us carriers of the light of the world. Our faith in Jesus empowers us to be light in our own ways. We become light when we begin to live for others – not just for ourselves. Light is not meant to be looked; it is not meant to be covered and treasured like some precious object. It is for people to see what is around them, so that they would be able to walk in safety.
Light, however, is of great service to people because it does not allow itself to be swallowed up by the darkness that surrounds it. Though just a tiny flicker light penetrates and overcomes the darkness. In like manner, we become light not only by doing errands and services for others. We become light when we show others that it is possible to live – without having to always go along with what everyone else wants, without always having to agree with what everyone else does.
We become light when in the midst of the world we stand up to give others a very important service – the service of example. This is what most people in the world today need: someone who would encourage them in the right path, a beacon, a living witness to gospel values.
Jesus then asks for two commitments. First, our brand of faith must open to us to service. Second, our service/ministry must be one of being – standing up, witnessing, rather than moving around and doing a lot.
Salt, the other element alluded to by Jesus, reinforces this. Salt does not exist for its own sake. No one sits down to eat salt and salt alone. Salt is a seasoning meant to be applied to something. Salt is meant for a certain important service: to put flavor to food that people eat. Hence, salt is best when it maintains its saltiness under every and any condition.
We are made and meant to shine! Let us believe in the light of God within us. By living just and upright lives, we manifest the brightness and beauty of God. Let us always get in touch with the light of God in us. Savor the peace and tranquility of living in the light. Let it radiate in our lives and that of others.
Jesus asks little! The real power and light is He. The real seasoning that gives full flavor is He. All He wants is that we be what He has made us to be through our faith and baptism- carriers and sharers of such light and favor. However, only in His example and by the power of His spirit. If we are ever at rights with God it is not because of something we have done, but because of God’s goodness and mercy. We are not the light! It is God’s shining through us. Pride, egoism, self-serving attitudes hides the light and loses the true flavor of discipleship.
Success stories are always riddled with ambiguity and hidden compromise; they are the ego’s work. The only success story that holds any interest for us is that of Jesus – and He was a failure! On the level of ordinary wisdom, yes, He failed. “He saved others but He cannot save Himself,” the onlookers said as He died. This tremendous failure is the very revelation of God in human terms. And (to quote from Tugwell) “we who are imitators of Jesus Christ are called to be imitators of him, and so should not be at all surprised to find that one of the arts we have to learn is the sublime art of weakness.”
“When I am weak then I am strong,” wrote St. Paul (2cor 12:10). It is fatal for oneself and for others to have the wrong kind of strength. “The strong are always the same,” wrote Hemingway, “they face the truth with a bullwhip.” Such people will never be the “salt of the earth”; they may set the world on fire, but they will never be “the light of the world.”