“A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.”
I have said this so often that I wonder if people just take it for granted. Yet, I truly and sincerely believe that we are so very “blessed.”
Just think about it for a moment. Think about the last time you went grocery shopping. The produce was fresh and abundant. How many different types of bread were there? And breakfast cereals? And fish and meats? And fruits and drinks, and a huge aisle of snack food!
We have so much. We have such an abundance. Just think the last time you searched for an item online and saw how many options there were. Or went to YouTube or Spotify?
We have so much. We are incredibly blessed here in Olympia, Washington. Yet so often, we can take it for granted.
When we built the office building back in 2009 and refurbished the rectory, I remember telling people that this is the nicest placed I have ever lived in my life. I truly meant it. At times I take it for granted. Hot and cold running water. A washer and dryer. The dishwasher – what a great invention! And on and on…
When we moved in, we were gifted with salt-and-pepper grinders. Somehow we ended up with this pink Himalayan salt and it looks great in the clear grinder.
About two months ago I tried to use the grinder and couldn’t. I no longer had the strength in my arms to simply turn it. The countertops were too high, so I tried it on a chair so that I could have greater leverage. That worked once, but hasn’t worked since. I couldn’t get the salt out of the grinder.
Do you ever feel like that in terms of your faith? Somehow, you can’t quite get it out. You don’t quite know how to broach the subject with a coworker or family member. The discussion seems just, so awkward.
I can no longer turn on the lamps in my rooms. The switches are too difficult for me to turn. Fortunately, there are touch lamps and now, Alexa. Adaptive plugs and a simple Echo make something technologically possible that did not exist 10 years ago.
Do you ever feel that in terms of your faith you can’t quite turn the light on for others or even for yourself?
Do you ever feel tongue-tied when it comes to talking or sharing your faith?
For many Catholics, evangelization almost feels like a swear word. You don’t use it in good company. It feels inappropriate and certainly not politically correct. One has to “sneak it in” if you attend public schools. If someone sneezes, to say “God bless you” is almost anathema. “Bless you,” is more than sufficient. God gets pushed out of the picture.
The Israelites had it tough in their day as well. The culture at the time of St. Paul was not much more receptive than ours today.
Yet God called them and calls us to be different than the world around us. God calls us to share our bread with the hungry; shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked; bind up wounds; remove oppression, false accusation and malicious speech.
There is no magic way to evangelize. There is no “silver bullet” that will change people’s hearts and turn them to God. If there were, the world would look much different than it does.
“When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I came in weakness and fear, in much trembling, proclaiming the mystery of God not with sublimity of words or of wisdom, for I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
That’s how we evangelize. That’s how we are salt. That’s how we are light and the city set on a hill. To know, to experience, to encounter Jesus Christ and him crucified and then to simply share what that relationship is like.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a personal Yelp! page for Jesus Christ and rate our relationship with him? Would it be 3 ½ stars; more or less? I could talk about my prayer – two stars today because I was so preoccupied. Five stars for the retreat that I had with my ALS team this past week. ½ star in finding volunteers for the St. Vincent de Paul clothing bank.
Our readings today challenge us not to be afraid to get the salt out of the shaker and to lift the light of our relationship with Jesus Christ from under the bushel basket of our own fears and embarrassments.
Yes, the people in Catholic Church are flawed. Yes, the Catholic Church is enduring the pain and humiliation of the clergy sexual abuse crisis. Yes, some, even many of the people in the Catholic Church, are hypocrites like me, who can say one thing and do another.
Yet, that does not negate the mystery of God in Christ Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. That is the precious gift, the light and salt that we are to share. We need to have that within us. We need to nurture it within our families. We need to cultivate it in our small groups. We need to learn more and more about the beauty and the mystery of our Catholic faith and then share without shame, without fear, without hesitation, without self-righteousness but in true humility because it is total gift with which we have been blessed.
If you feel like you don’t know your Catholic faith, take time to learn. I know this sounds silly, but one of the best and easiest resources to our faith is, “Catholicism for Dummies.” It is deeply researched and written by two Ph.D’s. It is easy to access and understand and therefore to share with others.
“Formed” is an excellent online resource to learn more about our faith, the saints and the beauty of our Catholic faith.
You can search the “Catholic Answers” website to get answers to those questions that people ask you. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know the answer to that. Let me find out and I’ll get back to you.” This may one day be the door through which they will enter the Church. This could be just the light that they are looking for.
The “Word on Fire” website is a treasury of truth, goodness and beauty.
The resources that Fr. Lou offers at the end of his reflections in the bulletin, are deep and direct. Check them out.
The “St. Paul Street Evangelization” website offer simple way of entering into conversation and sharing faith. We are also including simple tips from them in our bulletin each week.
The three-video “Life Shared” series from Alpha, offers simple and real-life ways to be salt and light in the world around us – in our homes and our neighborhoods, in our schools and our workplaces, at the gym or CrossFit.
We need to get the salt out of the shaker. We need to turn the light on.
More than any way else, we do this by having a relationship with someone we know and then built on that relationship to be attentive to the opportunities to share the good news of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Who knows what savor we might bring to people’s lives or what like we might be at a time of darkness?
Let us hold one another in prayer this week. Let us pray for attentiveness to the Holy Spirit nudging us and guiding us. Let us pray for the courage to humbly, joyfully and lovingly share Jesus Christ with others.