You ask young children, “What is the one thing that Jesus wants us to do?” What is the one thing that he is asking? And 90% of the time, they say, “Be nice.” I am still actually looking up the gospels where that “be nice” commandment is. It is very hard to find it. Now perhaps you parents are still waiting for your kids to be nice; that is fine. They will get it around 25 years old, hopefully. But it really wasn’t until then that I realized that my parents and especially—I’ll use the example of my father—I did not realize that he was so good to me. I mean, yeah, I could probably say that but it really did not hit me until my 20’s. And when it hit me, that my father was a good, good man; that he was compassionate and generous and loving to me—when it hit me—that was the point at which I wanted to be compassionate, loving and generous to my own father.
“You are the salt of the earth the light of the world.” That is a tall order, folks. And if we do not receive first the compassion, the generosity, the love of God, our Father, then trying to be salt of the earth and light of the world is actually very difficult because where do we get the flavor of life? Where do we get light if not from God himself directly?
Several decades ago, there was a Navy Admiral, who was shot down, caught, televised—it was the first televised POW display of the Americans in Vietnam in 1966; and he was tortured. He was one of the 17 most incorrigible prisoners. They tortured him beyond belief. He was a Catholic man; he recounts after coming back that at one point he was this close to complete despair—on the brink—that close. In his little cell, from his heart of hearts said, “Lord, I have said everything that I can say to you. I have said every prayer that I possibly know. I am at my end so if you are going to do something, do it. At that moment, there was a certain peace that came upon him. And right afterwards, he was dragged out for another round of torture. His torturer looked straight at him, saw that there was something completely different about the prisoner; he went straight to his superior and said our torture is done. We have no effect; he is not feeling any pain.
Friends, this is real stuff. Grace is real. The Father’s love is real. The kindness of God is real. The salt of the earth, the light of the world—what is the real difference of Christians in the world—that we are in a lived relationship with our Father and that is the reason why we are generous; that is the reason why we are good or nice. That is the reason why we are salt of the earth, light of the world; because we are in direct contact with our heavenly Father. This is the whole reason why we are doing everything. We have nothing to offer here at Holy Spirit Church. We have nothing to offer in the Roman Catholic rite. The Christian churches have nothing to offer; Apollo’s and St. Paul alike regardless of their oratory skills or lack thereof, had nothing to offer other than to point to a lived relationship with our heavenly Father.
Friends, when you feel it; when it becomes real, it changes everything. Did my father not love me for 25 years? Or was it my heart that was hardened to that love. This is the moment to open wide our hearts to receive his love displayed in the Body and Blood of his Son so that having been touched, impacted, moved by that goodness, by that kind of grace, we are able to do all sorts of things; to suffer all sorts of things.
This is my plea: Let your heart be impacted by the gospel. Take that book GIVE US THIS DAY and for five minutes, short reading, every day just sit there and wait; read it and wait. It will impact you. This is real. This is God’s Word to you. This is how salt becomes inserted into your life. This is when the light of your soul—the candle—is set afire by the Word every day. And if you can make it, come to Mass. Whatever you do, you have to let yourself be impacted because for 25 years of my life, I just assumed my father’s love and I did not appreciate it and it was a life less lived.
When the Word impacts you; when we receive it in the Word and in the Sacrament and when that really hits us, we will spend the rest of our life glowing because of such great love. And people around us whether they are our enemies who are torturing us or whether they are our friends who are seeking will notice the difference that is you being the salt of the earth, the light of the world.