Jesus reminds us that we are the light of the world and we are the salt of the Earth. When we forget that or even reject that, then not only are we not doing any good, we are not doing anything worthwhile for our neighbors around us.
In today’s Gospel we can see that Jesus is showing us that he gives us a treasure for which we are responsible to make a return on His investment in us. If we fail to make a return, even if the return on investment is no less than the original principle, then we have failed in the vocation to be salt and light.
Our second reading today comes from St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. We read this passage at this time of year because the focus is on the end times and at the end of the liturgical year, December 2, we also focus on our own ends.
If you look carefully at this passage, it reveals an often forgotten or even lost understanding of the teaching of our faith.
The more we embrace Christ the more we grow in the wisdom of God. This means that as we grow in the wisdom of God, we see things differently than those who reject God’s wisdom. In fact, we have an understanding of the bigger picture of the way the world works around us than those who do not believe have.
This is where St. Paul reminds us that we are not of darkness nor of night. Keep in mind that darkness in St. Paul means minds that are not enlightened by Christ. They are darkened. This means that the most educated and smartest person in the world, who also rejects Christ, is one whose mind is darkened, despite his or her status and education.They are incapable of seeing the bigger picture that those in the light can see and incapable of understanding the world through the eyes of faith.
He or she may know skills and theories beyond our ability to understand them but the person still does not see the world through the wisdom of God, which is greater than this.
To grow in the wisdom of God, we need to live our faith in Christ in daily prayer and divinely inspired action. We will see the world through the eyes of faith and when we do, we look at the signs of the times and see them in this context.
Let me give you a great example. Pope St. John Paul II warned back in 1993 that one of the greatest dangers facing our society worldwide is where freedom is set up in opposition to truth. So freedom becomes the greatest treasure of a society, but we learn that when freedom is opposite to truth then it becomes a standard of division not unity.
This US Bishops in their semi-annual meeting this week discussed that next year is the fiftieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae which is the document that defined the Church’s teaching on such things as artificial contraception and marriage. The fruit of rejecting that document and other forms of Catholic teaching is to create a world that separated faith from morality and freedom from truth. This leads to a world that is not rooted in the wisdom of Christ, but in a secular way of thinking. Those families that embrace and live Catholic teaching including Humanae Vitae, according to Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco, have a 2% divorce rate. They embrace the light and produce the fruits of it.
Further, In the wisdom of God what becomes the standard of unity? It is: charity also known as love.
When this divine oriented love becomes the standard the one fruit is a true freedom which grows in a community, and the community grows in love and peace in Christ. When freedom trumps charity then the community starts to divide because the standard of freedom is defined on an individual basis not a communal basis.
Let me give you an example. One of the greatest freedoms enjoyed in this country is the freedom of speech. I have the freedom to say anything I want, legally, but I, through the wisdom of God, understand that although I have the freedom to say anything, I must in charity only say that which is the best thing to say or I may be in sin for saying which is legal but unholy. As St. Paul commands: “Say only the good things man needs to hear.”
This means that the freedom is there, but does not mean that we should express it outside of charity.
When I obey these words of St. Paul, I grow in my witness to Christ and I am a blessing to the community. When I reject them and live in a community that does the same, I become part of the end of the community through creating factions and divisions.
Those who are not so enlightened will happily express their freedom over charity and they will watch the community in which they live become divided by lack of charity and not understand where the destruction came from. In fact, any war manual will tell you that the way to defeat a nation is get the people against each other and one of the tactics described is exactly what I just said. Cause division and the nation will weaken and eventually fall. I am sure you realize that there are forces trying to accomplish this in this country as we speak.
A house divided cannot stand and neither can a nation divided.
Those of us who seek to grow in Christ will seek to live in a freedom that is rooted in Christ because we see the bigger picture. We know that a world in division will end, but a kingdom united in Christ will exist forever. Those who reject Christ are blind to this bigger picture and they will not see the destruction that is coming their way.
This is why we need to understand that we know, what we know and live in that wisdom for the benefit of our loved ones and more. The more we do that, we can easily discern those who are living in light and those who are living in darkness.
This will lead us to live in such a way that we will give the Lord a return on His investment in us which is the salvation of souls.
God Bless You,
Fr. Robert J Carr