Message: You and I may not have such dramatic moments to be salt and light. But even in our abundant society we encounter the abandoned and lost - perhaps in our own families.
Last week we began a homily series titled Hidden Wisdom. St. Paul tells us today that he did not come with sublime words but with power - God's Spirit. Paul reveals his determination to preach only Jesus and him crucified.
We had an example of Hidden Wisdom last Sunday in the Beatitudes. If taken as ordinary wisdom they seem sentimental and out of touch. But when we see them as hidden wisdom - a wisdom that shows our relationship with Jesus crucified - then they become brilliant and practical.
Today we see that hidden wisdom in practice. Jesus tells us to become salt and light. Isaiah explains that if we share bread with the hungry and give shelter to the homeless, it will be like dawn breaking.
I saw that when I was in Peru. Not that I did anything heroic. In fact most of the 4 weeks I spent feeling sorry for myself. I was struggling with some illness that took away my voice and when I finally got back a raspy voice, I would start coughing before I finished a full sentence.
Well, in the final week I had scheduled an early morning Mass with the St. Teresa of Calcutta Sisters. The last time I celebrated Mass for them was 45 years ago in Rome shortly after I was ordained. This time in Peru I had cancelled many events but I couldn't back out on the Mother Teresa Sisters without considering myself the biggest wimp in the Western Hemisphere (no comments, please).
So I rasped my way through the Mass. After Mass one of the Mary Bloom Center volunteers asked me to visit an abandoned man in the countryside - to give him the anointing of the sick. In my self-pitying mood I thought, "I might need it more than he does." I'm glad I held my piece.
When we finally arrived at the small adobe hut, we found a man in terrible circumstances: 84-years-old, abandoned by his one son, he was dependent on the charity of strangers. He described the pain he was experiencing in his body. I hacked my way through the anointing rite but suddenly my pain seemed small and my blessings enormous. We went back to the Mother Teresa Sisters. They said they would take the man into their home as soon as possible.
The man's name? Victor! Could any name more represent the Hidden Wisdom of Christ Crucified? The man seemed defeated like Jesus on the cross. But he is the Victor. As St. Paul says not the wise, not the eloquent, not the powerful but those who embrace the hidden wisdom of the cross.
This hidden wisdom becomes apparent in salt and light. The Mother Teresa Sisters - and I have to say Luz Marron, director of the Mary Bloom Center - are salt and light, bringing Victor out of abandonment and showing his true dignity: not a burden on society but a man created in God's image and redeemed by Jesus.
You and I may not have such dramatic moments to be salt and light. But even in our abundant society we encounter the abandoned and lost - perhaps in our own families.
Next week Jesus will give some practical guidance on being salt and light - things even you and I can do, although it may cost.
Today let's consider the challenge of Stewardship: share bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless. Then, says the Prophet Isaiah, "your light shall break forth like the dawn, your wound shall quickly be healed, light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday." Amen.
From Archives (Fifth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Bishop Bob Barron's Homilies
Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
Review of Roe