Saturday, February 5, 2011
5th Sunday, Ordinary Time: The Faith of God's holy people is the praise of His glory and the "salt and light" of the world
Henry and Thomas were friends. Their friendship was built largely around the enjoyment of earthly pleasures and worldly pursuits together as the king and his chancellor. But one day, in a desire to move against the power of God's Church, Henry named Thomas the archbishop of Canterbury. Thomas warned Henry that things would not turn out as he desired, that when the bishop's mitre is placed upon a man's head he is called to put the honor of God even above the friendship and love of a king.
The story ends with the martyrdom of Thomas Becket in the cathedral and the shame of his former friend who in a moment of tormented agony seemed to be calling for his murder. Henry lives to see Thomas canonized a Saint and does public penance for his part in Thomas' murder.
Thomas Becket lived as salt and light, as the praise of God's glory, refusing even the proffered friendship of the most powerful man, his king, in preference to the love of the honor of God. His witness continues to shine before us even today, guiding our own way of faith in this world of competing loyalties and lesser gods.
What is this "faith" we share with Saint Thomas, which can transform us from weak and changing creatures into heros whose names are proclaimed down through the ages as Thomas' is today?
"Faith is a personal act - the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith."(CCC 166)
We are free, made in God's image and likeness, and it is our free acceptance of loyalty to God above every other man or woman that opens us up to our greatest dignity, to live as "salt" and "light" bringing into the world in a fuller and more beautiful way that which can only come from God and not from men: his saving grace. This grace of faith, giving birth to our salvation and that of others, is the goodness of God which overcomes the cynicism and selfishness that refuses any good other than that of oneself, through conversion of heart to the true and lasting love of God.
This is your life, setting you apart through Faith from every other people in this world:
"The People of God is marked by characteristics that clearly distinguish it from all other religious, ethnic, political, or cultural groups found in history:
"- It is the People of God: God is not the property of any one people. But he acquired a people for himself from those who previously were not a people: 'a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.'
"- One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being 'born anew,' a birth 'of water and the Spirit,' that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism.
"- This People has for its Head Jesus the Christ (the anointed, the Messiah). Because the same anointing, the Holy Spirit, flows from the head into the body, this is 'the messianic people.'
"-'The status of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple.'
"- 'Its law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved us.' This is the 'new' law of the Holy Spirit.
"- Its mission is to be salt of the earth and light of the world. This people is 'a most sure seed of unity, hope, and salvation for the whole human race.'
"-Its destiny, finally, 'is the Kingdom of God which has been begun by God himself on earth and which must be further extended until it has been brought to perfection by him at the end of time.'" (CCC 782)
Through his witness Saint Thomas Becket salts others with the savor of Christ and through his persevering Faith unto martyrdom burns as a light on the pathway to heaven for those who follow. You are God's holy people, His Church, and through faith you live as the "salt of the earth and the light of the world". And as you act and speak in Faith, seeking His glory and honor above every earthly reality, you live as the praise of His glory now and forever.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.