At a weekend Mass, at a parish we were visiting, I pointed out the Book of the Gospels that the priest was holding up to our now five-year-old daughter. She noticed the gold décor on the cover and said, “It’s so shiny!” I told her it had to be bright because it had all of the stories of Jesus in it. I don’t know if that made much of an impression, as she went right back to coloring, but hopefully she will always know of Jesus as the light of our world.
This weekend’s Gospel continues the Sermon on the Mount that we began last weekend with the Beatitudes. In today’s story, Jesus tells his disciples (and all of us) that we are indeed both salt and light. He does not say we are called to be those things, but that we are salt and light now. However, if we do not use the gifts we are given they can be lost.
The First Reading from Isaiah connects to this Gospel in calling the Israelites the have their “light shine forth from the darkness.” This particular passage is significant in that “it is addressed to the Israelites who have returned from exile in Babylon and are now charged with the responsibility of building a new nation. Isaiah likens this restored generation to a light that will shine forth for other nations to behold. While it is clear that political and military concerns will be on the minds of those attempting to rebuild their nation, Isaiah pays particular attention to their treatment of the poor,” (Fr. Stephen S. Wilbricht, CSC).
There are many concerns that we all have to be attentive to in our families and communities. Continuing poverty, homelessness and economic instability for so many, political and racial division, climate change and its ongoing effects, mental health challenges, all of these and more pose challenges to us locally in the Twin Cities, our state and nation. How are we able to be light in our families and communities that we are told we are in these readings?
One temptation I experience in times of uncertainty is to look inward and focus on my own needs, wants and desires. I find unfortunately I can do that quite easily, and it can be difficult to turn my gaze outward to those in need, either in my family or beyond. Isaiah was indeed prophetic in calling the Israelites to always look beyond themselves to those in need and on the margins if their nation was going to be an example for others. What a beautiful and arduous call for all of us.
The Basilica community has a decades long tradition of reflecting on and living out the Church’s Social Teaching, and we continue striving to do this daily. This coming Lenten season, we invite you to join together after the 9:30 Mass for a speaker series on various components of our Catholic Social Teaching. Fr. Daniel will begin the series, and we have wonderful local speakers from St. Thomas to continue helping us reflect each week. This will be both in person and on zoom; you can sign up on mary.org and plan to join us for the entire series or whenever you are able. May God bless all of our efforts to be salt and light as individuals and as a parish community.
Director of Learning