The current Sunday Gospels have us dwelling within Mathew’s Sermon on the Mount which pulls together the best of Christ’s teaching into one setting - making it clear to all that there is a new way to live. Each of us are the salt of the earth and light of the world. And it is through living out our lives that we bring to life the light of Christ – a true manifestation. So, then, why do so many look to hide their light – or worse yet try to hide the light of others under a proverbial basket. This past week the media has been filled with such stories:Recently, students from East Catholic High School in Seattle rallied in support of their gay vice principal who was fired for marrying his husband. Father John Whitney, SJ, pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Seattle, in a recent homily brought light onto this topic in support of the students. “In the last few weeks, these students… have given us an example of the kind of passionate discernment, motivated by the Gospel, that characterizes an important dimension of Catholic education—and, indeed, should characterize our faith both in and out of school."
In another case of trying to snuff out the light of others…. a Montana teacher was fired for conceiving a child out of wedlock for evidently violating the terms of her contract. She made a decision to have the baby versus obtaining an abortion, which would have allowed her to keep her job by hiding evidence of sexual activity. Cathleen Kaveny, professor of Theology at Boston College, writing on this termination reminded her readers: “Catholicism is a religion of “being,” not a religion of “willing.” Membership in the community depends upon, in most cases, baptism as an infant. You are part of the Catholic family–no matter what. That is the most deeply countercultural message the Church can convey in American culture, which has a deeply voluntarist strain–you say something wrong, you do something wrong, you’re out of the club : we choose to exclude you or you choose to exclude yourself.”And probably the most recent and absurd example of ego-centricity gone rampant in an attempting to hide the light of others was last week’s media onslaught of people questioning how Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of an apparent drug overdose, was afforded a Catholic funeral…as if being buried out of the Church was something to be earned. Author and celebrant of the funeral, Fr. James Martin, SJ reminded all that, “Phil Hoffman was not only a baptized Catholic but also a person with a lovely soul, and so deserves a Catholic funeral, and Pope Francis reminds us that the sacraments aren’t for perfect people; they are for the rest of us.”
The issue at hand is that most of us are rooted and stuck on the “Law” – and using the law, such as it is, to measure others. And thus we have lost the core message of the Sermon on the Mount – which is really about love. Versus laws, love is a real energy and spiritual force, forever alive and life giving.So on this day and every day be eager to live in love and to allow your light AND the light of others to shine on and on. Why wait. Do it now.