Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Salt of the earth
Are people influenced by example? The answer is "Yes", but, unfortunately, they respond to "bad" example more easily than to "good" example. However, we should not be too pessimistic that "good" example is without its impact. Today's readings all touch on this need to be exemplars; to be "lights in the darkness".

Isaiah 58: 7-10: Isaiah leaves his readers in no doubt that their religious sense of God's presence must be expressed in practical terms if it is to be fruitful and serve the purpose of bringing people to God.

Corinthians 2: 1-5: In his efforts to convert the Corinthians, Paul not only relied on word, but held before them the practical example of his own committment.

Matthew 5: 13-16: Here we have yet another example of Christ's practical presentation of Christian discipleship. We all know how insipid food is without salt; Christ is saying Christian discipleship that consists only in lip service without practice is equally insipid.

Point 1: I wonder "how often do we think that others take note of our response, as Christians, to everyday situations"? We would like to think that they do, but, for the most part, we are pessimistic about our impact. Well, that may be true when our example is good; but, more often than we think, when our example is at variance with our Christian profession, people take note. Particularly have I found this to be so when dealing with youth - how prone they are to "peer pressure"; it always intrigues me why "peer pressure" generally reflects bad example rather than good!

Point 2: As youngsters, my generation was constantly schooled about the danger of giving "bad example", or of giving "scandal". Unfortunately, the more positive aspect of the need to give "good" example was not equally emphasised; there seemed to be the presumption that whereas people would not follow "good" example, they would follow "bad" example. To bear witness, however, is integral to our Christian committment. We are reminded of this at Baptism when the priest touches the ears and the mouth of the newly baptised and prays that the word of God may be heard by the person and made known, mainly by example, and, where necessary, by word.

Point 3: This role of bearing witness should not be confused with button-holding and engaging in a "hard-sell" exercise - tub thumping, as we used to say! Cardinal Suhard, a former Archbishop of Paris commented -"to bear witness does not mean to engage in propaganda; it means to live lives in such a way that we would be fools if Jesus were not the Son of God". This form of witness is carried out by the majority who live their lives in a spirit of faith and joy; lives that reflect God's presence in them, and they draw on this presence to help the lives of others and what happens in our community.

Conclusion: The point of this reflection is to bring home to us that effective witness to Christ can only be achieved if we have a deep seated faith in Christ and in ourselves. Regularly, Christian communities throughout the country remind themselves of this as they sing the hymn "The Fullness Of God"from the Eagles Wings selection based on St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. - "know the way you learned from Christ to live life anew..... and living so you'll come to know - The Fullness of God.

Scriptural reference: This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. [Eph 3:11-12]