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“We have the responsibility to bring Christ into the world.

This Sunday’s Gospel has one of my favorite images for our vocation as laity: “You are the salt of the earth.” Salt.  It’s a powerful image for us.  What are a few grains of salt?  They’re so miniscule, they’ve become an image for smallness and insignificance: “She took it with a grain of salt.” Even if you can’t get to daily Mass, I highly recommend using the readings of the day in your daily prayers. It is a way to unite your prayers with Catholics throughout the world, to live liturgically, and to become familiar with the great stories and wisdom of Sacred Scripture.

Yet this is what God calls us to be.  Why? Because that little thing makes a huge difference.  With all due respect to people with high blood pressure, unsalted food is just… blah.  But add the right amount of salt, and all the flavors of the food shine.

Elsewhere in Scripture, Jesus refers to the kingdom of God as leaven, or yeast.  Similar idea, right? Think of how small yeast is, compared to the rest of bread’s ingredients. But if you don’t have it… it’s pretty obvious.

Salt and leaven – these are extraordinary things.  They’re pretty normal, and they’re pretty small. But they make a huge difference.

These are the images that the Second Vatican Council recalled when speaking about our vocation as lay faithful (Lumen Gentium 31, 33). The Council taught that our role is to “seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God.” (LG 31)

We live in the world. Most of us have “secular” professions and occupations, we have families, we have kids in school, we live in neighborhoods, and we volunteer. These places are our mission territory. We have the responsibility to bring Christ into the world.

The laity must work for the sanctification of the world, but not in the same way as the clergy and religious. Our call is to bring the Kingdom of God into the environments where we work, volunteer, shop, and live. By our good example, our outspoken defense of truth, or our charity towards our neighbor, we are salt.

We are salt in these places because we might be small, we might not look like much, and we might mix in unnoticeably. But we change the world around us. That is our call.

St. Josemaria Escriva brings up an important aspect of salt. “The charity of Christ should compel you. Feeling and knowing yourself to be another Christ from the moment you told him that you would follow him, you must not separate yourself from your equals — your relatives, friends and colleagues — any more than you would separate salt from the food it is seasoning” (The Forge, 450). It can be tempting to shelter ourselves away, to run away from the fight, to not mix with people with whom we don’t agree. But for most of us, that’s not what we are called to do. We work in our mission territory, alongside our colleagues, and we strive to witness in our daily lives to the love of Christ.

Salt preserves what is good. This is what we must do in society. We must give life the flavor the Gospel. As lay faithful, we have the obligation to shape the moral character of society, to work to build up a civilization of justice, truth, freedom. We vote. As Christians, we must speak out in defense of the poor, marginalized, and unborn. All of us should pray for those in public office.

We have the responsibility to change and renew culture. With our diverse gifts and talents, Christians should be renewing media, art, politics, education. The role of the laity is not to sit back and let the priests do all the work. Rather, our apostolate is to renew the temporal order, this world in which we live. We must bring Christ to those we meet – to our coworkers, to our family, to our friends, to our enemies.

You have been given certain gifts and talents. God has given you certain spheres of influence, certain family members, certain coworkers. As a result, you have been given a mission – a mission not given to anyone else. We must build up a society that works for justice, charity, solidarity, and truth. Working to animate our world with the spirit of the Gospel, we must be salt.

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