June 17, 2016
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And You shall renew the face of the earth.
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
We are the salt of the earth.
This was the message during the first Mass of a powerful women’s conference (the Given Forum) I had the privilege to attend last week. And how true it is - we have aresponsibility to the world to share the love of Christ; we are a part of the renewal of the world, by the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Body of Christ still suffers in human bodies here, especially now in those who mourn the loss of their loved ones in one of the most gruesome hate crimes our nation has ever seen... carried out by a deranged individual. We must reach out to our LGBTQ+ and Latino brothers and sisters with unconditional hearts, not harboring for a second even deep within our hearts: “well, I still don’t agree with you, but …”. No but's! We must offer our prayers for the pain experienced in that community, and take this as an opportunity to listen about a history of discrimination we may know little about. Our hearts must be open to listen, to hurt with them, since their pain is also ours, shared in the universal Body of Christ. But, we also must acknowledge the uniqueness of the hate crime against this particular population.
We must be the salt of the earth.
We must not be the salt that is rubbed into wounds, but the salt that brings out the true flavor, the fundamental truths of this tragedy: a struggle between Good and Evil.
Even the word “evil” is political, but we must not be afraid to say it, for the Evil one does his most terrifying work in the dark, unnamed, and anonymous. Of course, there are many facets and lenses we could speak through in this tragedy, especially gun laws, but we must not hesitate to frame this tragedy in the lens of Good vs. Evil, beyond government, beyond earthly laws. We must gird our loins, as Christians, to protect ourselves from the onslaughts of the Evil one that we feel, however sneaky or blindsiding they may be, and we must reject them in the name of Jesus. We must stay close to the Father, exhort our Saints in Heaven for their intercession, frequent the sacraments, and truly believe and love the spiritual enrichment our Church provides! This is why the Church is our Mother!
Catholics, we must especially be the salt of the earth.
We, in a special way, have been given the enrichment of the sacraments, the divine lineage of the popes leading back to Christ Himself, and we must not be ashamed of it. In fact, I think the best way we can own this enrichment is through an intense commitment to humility and to service to others.
Even though I am a convert to the church, the zeal does not always flow in abundance…! I must frequently remind myself of the incredible gift that the Lord wanted to give me, and how this gift also marks an incredible responsibility to me to bear these gifts for the abundance of His Kingdom. And brothers and sisters, please pray for my fortitude in this area - it is all too easy in this Internet-ridden world to sit back and seek entertainment or distraction or mind-numbing, and not thoughtful, prayerful engagement with one’s vocation, one’s special mission to the world. We must proclaim that we are the salt of the earth, but this proclaiming must primarily begin and remain in prayer, to God our Father, teaching us to speak. We must be like infants, imitating the speech our Father gives us until it internalizes into our being, our speech, our conduct.
However! We must not yell at the world that we are the salt of the earth. No no no. We must get close enough for the world, our friends, family, people we encounter totaste the difference in our lives, to experience for themselves the richness of our lives only holiness and love lived out can inspire.
This dynamic of drawing people in to God instead of shoving Him in their faces was portrayed perfectly by Amanda Cook, a fantastic worship leader, in a Q&A before a worship show: To bring others into worship and belief of our God, we must not stand in a crowded, bustling room, yelling at others to look at a beautiful picture, we must gaze upon the beautiful picture ourselves and be brought to tears, repentance, worship, love. We must return to Him as our First and Last, not the minds of others, not the amount of people we convince, not the affirmations of others. Holiness is something that the world has no answer for, and we must show them the other-worldly answer.
I will end with a prayer:
Jesus Christ, Crucified and Risen,
We ask for your forgiveness
For all the ways we have failed you
in our time so far here on earth, so precious and unrepeatable.
We ask that you may enkindle in us, the fire of your love,
that we may live out and communicate your Love to others,
that our friends would not have to work hard to see your work in us,
that our hearts would be transformed into Flesh,
that you would take our hearts of stone.
Mary, our Mother, lead our Church to be a voice of hope and love,
Never swaying from your Son’s teachings,
and always providing care to those caught in this battlefield of a world.
May we, as Christians, Catholics,
be a sweet fragrance,
the salt of the earth.