Many people today have a rather low opinion of themselves. They look upon others as talented and gifted; they admire others for their accomplishments; they are able to sing the praises of others, but when it comes to themselves, they don’t expect much.
Isaiah, Peter, and Paul were like that – they cut themselves short. “Woe is me!” cried Isaiah when God called him to be a prophet. He was convinced that he was unable to be of any assistance to God, yet Isaiah became one of the most important Prophets in the Old Testament. “I am the least of the Apostles,” wrote Paul; “In fact, because I persecuted the Church, I don’t even deserve the name.” Paul felt that he was one of the worst sinners the world has ever known. Certainly, Jesus would have no need for him. “Leave me Lord!” pleaded Peter after Jesus miraculously filled his fish nets, “I am a sinful man.” Peter could not see that he had any value to Jesus – let alone invite Peter to come along and help Him with His mission.
Three men who considered themselves unimportant joined the ranks of the greatest. These sinners, these unqualified, these common, run-of-the-mill men became three of the greatest men of all times: Isaiah the Ambassador of God, Peter the first Pope, and Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Every day, God asks us in many different ways to be of service to Him – to be “salt of the earth and light to the world.” When we realize – as did Isaiah, Paul, and Peter – that apart from God we can’t do much, but with Him, we are capable of great things, then we will begin to have a better opinion of ourselves, and we will begin to do great things.
It makes no difference who we are, how much money we have, or many talents we have or doesn’t have. Each of us is a person God can and will use if we let Him. God was able to speak through Isaiah in spite of his fear and nervousness; Jesus was able to establish His Church through Peter whose expertise was fishing; He was able to evangelize and strengthen the young Church through Paul who initially was bent on destroying it. If God could do such work through these three men, be assured that He can and will do the same with you and me.
We are called to be salt and light in a society in which the salt of Faith has been watered down, and the light of Faith has been dimmed. All of us are destined to be shaken and poured out on a world that has become stale, just as Jesus’ life was poured out on the wood of the Cross.
Jesus has made us light, and we are destined to shine forth on a world that gropes and stumbles in the darkness. Jesus warns us that our vocation as baptized Catholics is to play a vital function in the world. If we have no impact on our secular society, we are useless. Our challenge is to make a difference – to be poured out like salt and to be light for the darkness and confusion of the world. What good is salt if it stays in the shaker? What good is the light that stays in the battery and never gets to the bulb?
We are in this world to change it in the name of Jesus Christ. That work belongs to each of us. Lay people as well as clergy. This moment in history cries out for mature, intelligent, zealous, and faithful lay leaders. Every Christian life, and every choice of every Christian matters eternally. Laypeople, not clergy, have the task of evangelizing the secular world, and only we can do it as God intended it to be.
Never be embarrassed by or ashamed of your Catholic Faith. Never be afraid of the consequences of your Catholic faith. Take pride in your Catholic identity and share it with others. All of us who are American Catholics need to stir up the confidence in ourselves – to stand up and live our faith — in everything we do — without apologies or excuses. And if we do that, then we won’t need to ask what the “new evangelization” Pope Francis and the bishops are calling to live, we will already be practicing it in our lives. As the Rev. Schuler would say: “Don’t just sit there; Do something!”
Every day, God asks us in many different ways to be the “salt of the earth and light to the world.” We are called to be salt and light in a society in which the salt of Faith has been watered down and the light of Faith has been dimmed. We can be the earth’s salt and the earth’s light if our Faith rests not on the so-called wisdom of the world, but rather on the power of God.
Each of us is destined – as Jesus was on the cross – to be shaken and poured out in a world that has become stale and indifferent. Jesus has made us light, and we are destined to shine forth on a world that gropes and stumbles in the darkness. Jesus summons us to play a vital part in the world, and we have the power to do that. Lent gives us the power to do that! If we have no impact on secular society, then we are useless. Our challenge today is to make a difference – to be poured out like salt and to be light for the darkness and confusion of the world. What good is salt that stays in the shaker? What good is the light that stays in the battery and never gets to the bulb?