February 5, 2023

V Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year A
Fr. Jon Reardon

            One of the greatest compliments that could be said of another person – so and so is the “salt of the earth.” It is an expression that stresses someone’s solid worth, value, dignity… Its like saying – this person has a good heart.

          Certainly, there was a reason why Jesus used this expression – you are the salt of the earth… In His time, salt was highly valued and had three distinct qualities: 1. It related to purity – no doubt because of its color. The Romans used to say that there was nothing purer than salt because of where it came from – sun and sea. 2. Much like today, salt was a common preservative. It preserves from corruption. 3. It adds flavor. What is Jesus saying about the Christian life in using this image – that as Christians we are meant to be pure. We must have purity in mind, body, and spirit. We must hold fast to moral standards – honesty, integrity, conscientiousness… in other words we are called to be unstained from the world. In that light, we are meant to remain preserved from the corruption of sin and be a person who makes it easier for others to be good. And that is what adds flavor to life. These qualities will no doubt assist others to see that Catholicism is not a drag but rather lends a certain radiance to life itself … being a devout Christian allows us to become the men and women we are supposed to be …

          Who are we supposed to be? First and foremost – God calls each and every one of us to be holy. He calls us to live our lives in union with Him – heart, mind, body and soul. From there we find our specific calling – our Vocation. This is what brings me to your parish today – to speak about vocations, more specifically, on the vocation to the priesthood. While each of us here is meant to put on these qualities mentioned – of being the salt of the earth – I find that it is even more true for those called to be priests … examples of purity, free from corruption, helping others to be good, adding flavor to life and faith. Think about this – what does a priest do? He teaches the ways of the faith, encourages others to adhere more fully to the Gospel and the teachings of the Church, He feeds his flock with the graces of Christ through the Sacraments … He provides and an example of purity and goodness that inspires others to the same … The priest adds flavor to life and faith by being exactly who God desires him to be … There must be joy in the heart and on the face of every priest because His ministry, His life reflects the joy and love of Jesus Christ for His people. A priest ought to be described as the “salt of the earth…”

          Friends, in the Diocese of Springfield we currently have 2 seminarians and 2 more in application. Our numbers are up, thanks be to God! Nevertheless, we have work to do – we still need to pray for vocations … we need to encourage the men of our diocese to consider a vocation to the priesthood. The Church needs you! Jesus does not stop calling, He does not stop looking for the next generation of priests for our diocese. You can help … with your prayer, by the example of a faithful life as a Catholic, and by not being afraid to say a young man who may be a teenager or a man who is older – “Hey, I think you would make a good priest, you should consider it…” You just never know who might be listening.

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