"You are the salt of the earth...You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13-14). I went into the social hall kitchen on Monday night. My visit to the kitchen this time was not to scavenge for snacks and soda as I do from time to time when I take an intermittent break from my work in the parish office. I went into the kitchen because I noticed the lights were on. To cut to the chase, I found some members of our outstanding Council of Catholic Women preparing food for the ECHOS winter program for the homeless. They could have been somewhere else and doing something more suited to their pleasure, but they chose to serve the needs of the poor and homeless. They bring into reality prophet Isaiah's injunction from the Lord that says: "Share your bread with the hungry" (Is 58:7).
Jesus calls us to be the "flavor" that preserves the integrity of society. He calls us to bring light to places and people in darkness. We can make a case that Jesus is speaking about social justice action in these verses of the Gospel. We can become the salt of the earth and the light of the world by serving the human dignity goals of the Catholic Church's social teaching, her best-kept secret.
Jesus calls and sends every baptized Catholic to be an agent of justice for the poor. So, the church will naturally always make a preferential option for the poor. Several popes, including Pope St. John Paul II, have made this call for justice: "Love for others, and in the first place love for the poor, in whom the Church sees Christ himself, is made concrete in the promotion of justice (St. John Paul II, On the Hundredth Year [Centesimus Annus], no. 58). Our parish, through ministries like Men's Club, CCW, and St. Vincent de Paul, and others serve the social teaching of the church so well, and I once again encourage them to continue their services and urge more hands to join them to bring the salt and light of Christ to our world.
In His Light,
Fr. Bernard, OP