Be Salt and Light, Again
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Catholics can rightfully be proud of our many contributions in the making of America. In spite of considerable persecution at times, we started some of the first hospitals in America; we championed schooling for all, including some of the first colleges in America. We cared for the homeless and the poor; we fought for workers’ rights; we opened adoption agencies; we led the way in many ways of service to others.
As an example, today, in communities where there is only one hospital, “Catholic hospitals account for at least 50% of those." (1) And Catholic Charities is now the largest voluntary social service network in the United States. In many ways, over a period of many years, we have been “the salt of the earth …and light of the world” [Mt 5:13-16] for America.
But, sadly, in recent times, Catholics have been abdicating that role in America. Many of us have just “blended into” the larger culture around us. Our divorce rates, cohabitations, and unwed mothers are comparable to the general population. We are no longer a “shining light.” We even have the largest number of people in the US who have simply abandoned their faith – just walked away. (2) Friends, we Catholics are approaching a “tipping point” very soon. A point where we may well have little relevance in the public square and even be persecuted … again.
Religion is not a garment that you wear or not
to suit the occasion.
This “tipping point,” of which I speak, is very real. Religion is not a garment that you wear or not to suit the occasion. If your behavior is not shaped by the core beliefs of the religion you profess, then religion itself has no real meaning in your life. It’s just part of your external appearance. If we are truly to be Catholics, our behavior must be guided by core Catholic beliefs.
I’m sure we all know that the preciousness of human life, the sanctity of marriage and the free expression of religion are not just tenets of the Catholic faith, they’re central to God’s plan of salvation for all mankind. In this Sunday’s Gospel reading [Mt 22:15-21], we heard Jesus say: “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
The preciousness of human life, the sanctity of marriage
and free expression of religion belong to God.
Yes: repay to God what belongs to God. The preciousness of human life, the sanctity of marriage and freedom of religion belong to God. As a people, we cannot take innocent human life, we cannot redefine marriage, we cannot suppress the free expression of religion. But we’re very close to losing any influence over these areas in the public square if we make wrong choices on November 3rd.
We are in danger of being so distracted
by the personalities in this
that we may fail to see the principles involved.
I know you’ve heard this before, perhaps ad nauseum. But the stakes are too high to just “push this all aside,” to just ignore it. We are in danger of being so distracted by the personalities in this that we may fail to see the principles involved – deep moral principles. If we don’t stand up for these principles now, we will see the moral decay of America get even worse. And we could have done something about it.
So, we must realistically confront where we are at. We must act in accord with God’s will, make right choices on November 3rd and not be distracted by the personalities. It’s not about personalities, it’s about principles.
And, if we haven’t done so already, we need to return to saying a rosary each day for our country. It is time, Catholics, for us to show the way to what is right. It is time for us to again be “the salt of the earth and the light of the world” for our America.
'Till next time.
Dcn Bob Evans
October 19, 2020
NOTE: This is the text of my homily at the 5 pm Mass on October 18, 2020 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Scottsdale.
1. Katie Hafner, "When the Religious Objection Comes from Your Local Hospital," The New York Times, August 16, 2018, p. 14.
2. Religion & Public Life, Pew Research Center, Oct 2019.
Matthew 5:13-16; 22:15-21