To be Salt and Light

Many of us can remember when St John Paul II made his final visit to Canada for the World Youth Day celebration in Toronto in 2002. I was preparing to depart for the University of McGill that Fall and for a variety of reasons did not attend this celebration and see the pope for the second time, my first being in Paris in 1997. My parents and younger brother Adam did attend and so it remained for me to watch over my two younger brothers and decide to what extent I would watch TV coverage of the event.

I’ll admit I did not follow much of World Youth Day 2002, but I did watch when St John Paul II slowly walked down the stairs from airplane once he arrived in Canada. It seemed like an eternity as the ailing pontiff slowly took a step, rested, steadied himself and prepared for the next agonizing step. Many in the crowd were visibly moved and even the usually uncharitable news broadcasters of our nation let silence reign as the Vicar of Christ showed to the world not just how fragile his health was but how in revealing his weakness, he showed us the redemptive value of suffering in the twilight of life.

It so happened that the theme of that World Youth Day was to be salt of the earth and light of the world. St. John Paul II revealed himself to be salt and light as he slowly walked down those stairs. He showed us what it means to be preserved in faith, just as salt keeps food from spoiling. So too was his faith in Christ preserved in his willingness to serve and show what it means to persevere with Christ to the end. He was also a light for the world to see, in revealing that one’s dignity is not robbed when sickness and pain sets in but that by offering up that suffering for the redemptive good of others, and visibly for all to see, it shows us how the light of Christ is often found in the darkness of tribulations but not without a ray of light breaking in.

May we strive to be salt and light in the ordinary and heroic ways we live our faith in thought, word and deed.