OUT TO THE FRINGES
Using two bold and surprising images, Jesus lets us know what he thinks of and expects from his followers. They don’t need to be always thinking about their own interests, their own prestige, their own power. Even though they are a small group in the midst of the huge Roman Empire, they need to be the «salt» and the «light» that the world needs.
«You are the salt of the world». The simple people of Galilee spontaneously catch on to Jesus’ language. Everyone knows what salt is good for: above all giving food flavor and conserving it from spoiling. In the same way, Jesus’ disciples need to contribute to helping people savor life without ending up spoiled.
«You are the light of the world». Without the sun’s light, the world stays dark and we can’t find our way or enjoy life in the midst of darkness. Jesus’ disciples can carry the light that we need to find our way, to probe the deepest meaning of life, to walk with hope.
Both metaphors have something very important in common. If it stays isolated in a shaker, salt doesn’t do anything. Only when it enters into contact with food and dissolves in the food can it give flavor to what we eat. The same thing happens with light. If it stays closed up and hidden away, it can’t enlighten anyone. Only when it is in the middle of the dark can it illuminate and guide. A Church isolated from the world can be neither salt nor light.
Pops Francis has seen that the Church today lives closed in on herself, paralyzed by fear, and all too distant from problems and sufferings, thus keeping it from giving flavor to modern life and from offering the true light of the Gospel. The Pope’s response has been immediate: «We need to go out to the fringes».
The Pope insists over and over: «I prefer a Church that is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures».
Francis’ call is directed to all Christians: «We can’t calmly stay inside our churches with passive hope». «The Gospels always invite us to run the risk of meeting face to face with the other». The Pope wants to introduce into the Church what he calls «the culture of encounter». He’s convinced that «what the Church needs today is the capacity to heal wounds and to warm hearts».
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf