You are the salt of the earth.
Sure, no problemo!
You are the light of the world.
Sure, no problemo! By the way, what is it that You want me to do now?
We get from these 2 phrases that Jesus wants us to do something. But they are kind of generic.
They tell us what to be as Christians. But they do not tell us how to be "salts" or "lights". It's like people saying: "Go do this..." and then not finishing the sentence. I think we have all experienced this. We really wish the Prophets and Gospel writers had put things together like they should be.
But the ways we can do these - if we search all night - is readily found in both the Old Testament and in the Gospels. In our first reading, the Prophet Isaiah, as do so many of the Prophets, tells us in no unceertain terms:
- share bread with hungry
- shelter the oppressed and homeless
- clothe the naked
- do not turn your back on your own.
Then the Lord...will say "Here I am! And then light shall rise for you in the darkness".
Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew talks of the Final Judgment when the sheep will be separated from the goats. Both are given the same standards at the Final Judgment.
- hungry, you gave me to eat,
- thirsty, you gave me to drink,
- a stranger and you took me in,
- naked and you covered me,
- sick and you visited me,
- in prison and you came to me.
THE SHEEP: (Sheepishly) When did we do this?
- "as long as you did it for one of these, the least of brethren, you did it for Me". (And doing these can have a resemblance to last month's "Oh Christ, it's You again!" and again and again).
THE GOATS: When did they did NOT do these things
- "as long as you did NOT DO it for one of these, the least of brethren, you did NOT do it for Me".
(They were probably too busy gathering money, getting power and defrauding these same people to notice.)
We as a Community of Christians here at Jesus Our Shepherd do many of these things.
But we actually do not live in a Christian country. There is so much accumulating of wealth, greed, stealing, dishonesty, etc. How can we be the "Salt of the Earth" and the "Light of the World" today when:
- the top 2% of our fellow citizens have greadily grown from 1979 holding 26% of the wealth of our country to now holding over 75% of this wealth.
- the greed and fraud of Wall Street, big banks, real estate brokers, etc. are being treated as "so what"; when they have caused so much pain to those, "the least of my brethren".
- the idea is that "business" should have no restrictions; when it is clear that the wealth created never does come down to those, "the least of my brethren".
- when national and state leaders fight the right to health care, cut money for education, want to cut or eliminate Medicaid when is the only option for health care and are doing so much TO NOT DO TO THE LEAST OF HIS BRETHREN, when will be the standard by which each one of us will be judged by Jesus.
And the worst part is that we sometimes get caught up in it, even though it might be in small ways.
And so as individuals we know we can can do more, even in small ways to serve "these least of our brethren".
- We all can shop and we not buy more than we need so as to have money for charity.
- We all have so much in our houses that we really don't need. Jesus said to the rich young man: "Go, sell what you have and givie it to the poor. Then come and follow Me".
(Dorothy Day, who when she was in Milwaukee stayed at Barbara's parent's home, carried all of her possessions in a shopping bag. We don't have to go this far, UNLESS WE ARE CALLED TO IT IN SOME WAY.)
- We can - each of us including children - daily (perhaps at suppertime) put a small amount of money we could have spent on ourselves into a small container to send to appropriate charities.
- And if we think and pray, we will find many, many other ways for ourselves to be used to serve "the least of our brethren.
We are called to be the "Salt of the Earth" and the "Light of the World". And only we can figure out what that turns out to be. Only we. The "catch word" is "pray, and pray unceasingly; and then do".