June 10, 2021
by Director of Mission, Mr Geoff Brodie
If we want to know what another person truly values in their life, one piece of sage advice is, “Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do.” French poet Paul Claudel, making the same point to his fellow Catholics said it this way: “Speak about Christ only when you are asked. But live so that people ask about Christ!” The life of another person is the most persuasive argument for a set of values we will encounter, and so it comes as no surprise that God chose to make his case through Jesus; God lived a human life to invite us into the fullness of life. During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus answered many of the questions he was provoking by his way of life. People were asking because they had encountered his love and mercy. When asked about how to live, he replied:
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:13-16)
Bishop Robert Barron offers this interpretation of Jesus’ words.
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus uses the images of salt and light to show how we are to bring salvation to the world. In our rather privatised and individualistic culture, we tend naturally to think of religion as something for ourselves designed to make our lives richer or better. Now there is a sense in which that is true, but on the biblical reading, religiosity is like salt, light, and an elevated city: it is meant not for oneself but for others.
Perhaps we can bring these two together by saying that we find salvation for ourselves precisely in the measure that we bring God’s life to others. The point is that we followers of Jesus are meant to be salt, which effectively preserves and enhances what is best in the society around us. We effectively undermine what is dysfunctional in the surrounding culture.
We are also light by which people around us come to see what is worth seeing. By the very quality and integrity of our lives, we shed light, illuminating what is beautiful and revealing what is ugly. The clear implication is that, without vibrant Christians, the world is a much worse place.
A St. Patrick’s College education is an invitation to participate in the plans of God and therefore, bring salvation to the world. That is quite a bold claim, but Jesus has shown us the way of life through is own life, teachings, death, and resurrection. We are not expected to save the world on our own. In fact, we cannot. Instead, we can make this world beautiful through love and friendship with Jesus and our neighbour. The life-giving culture of St Patrick’s College is encountered through those who are motivated and directed by love and friendship, that is, those who live for others in the detail and routines of everyday life. To discover such people, we need to pay more attention to what people do, rather than what they say. To be such a person is our fulfillment.