Father Charles Ravert

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Pax ey Bonum+Paz y Todo lo Bueno

One thing adults often tell children and young adults is that they should live up to their potential. The potential to be great, potential to do great things, potential to make a difference of some sort in the world.

At first glance, Jesus seems to tell us to live up to our potential in the Gospel this Sunday. He says we are the “salt of the earth,” and the “light of the world.” He explains that if salt loses its taste it’s garbage. And light that’s hidden is not helpful to anyone. This is the key. If you buy some salt from the store and put in your pantry and never use it, what good is it? Or if you turn on all the lights in your house and then leave, what point do the lights serve in an empty house?

Salt and light: these analogies are things that benefit everyone but itself. Salt doesn’t flavor anything for itself. Light doesn’t need itself to see in the dark. Salt and light are only beneficial to the people who use them. So, Jesus is telling us that we are salt and light, not because we’re powerful, but because He has made us the servants of all.

Our lives are meant to be lived for others not ourselves. Jesus didn’t hold back anything of himself from us. He gave us His time, His words, miracles, His very own Body and Blood, and of course, His life on the cross. As His disciples we too must give our lives for others. Remember, “Greater love has no man, than to lay down his life for his friends”(John 15:13).

We live in a culture that is obsessed with itself. We’re constantly being encouraged to take pictures of ourselves with our phones, told to buy a whole assortment of goops and goo to stay young and beautiful, share every private thought and opinion with strangers on the internet, and put the love of ourselves before everyone else under the innocuous title of “self care.” Is it a wonder that the more we focus on ourselves alone the more lonely, anxious, and depressed we become?

Culture is an amazing thing but parts of it can become warped very quickly and it seeps into us. We might not go looking for it but it’s all around us. Buzzwords and sound bites, commercials and shows, music and social media all affect us on some level even if we barely encounter it. Then there are the apostles of a warped culture. People in our lives that buy the lies and egoism and live their lives by them. They become obsessed with themselves and they want us to be obsessed with them too. They preach a gospel of selfishness and self-centeredness. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves and wanting to be happy with our lives. We need to eat and sleep, go to the doctor when we’re sick, make money to support our families, even go on vacation now and then. All this we do is in service of others because it keeps us healthy and able to live our vocations and spend time with friends and family.

When our desire for food or laziness, obsession with health and living forever, or greed for money, power and influence become our goals and ends in themselves we are lost.

Egoism and selfishness are everywhere in culture today and we must stand our guard against the influences that are telling us to love ourselves above all else.

We are the salt of the earth, the light of the world! We are meant to flavor this world with faith and enlighten it with love. But we can’t do that if we fall in the trap of egoism and selfishness.

The salt and the light serve no purpose if they don’t serve others. Jesus knows in order for us to live up to our real potential we need to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow him (Luke 9:23).

Father Charles Ravert serves as pastor of St. Ambrose Parish in Philadelphia.