(Matthew 5: 13-16)
Jesus in this Gospel is continuously teaching his disciples the meaning of their mission. This text in Matthew followed the famous, Beatitudes which speaks of the way of happiness anchored in following the teachings of Jesus. As we end our retreat, we have been filled with many meanings of the Kingdom of God, in the words of Fr. Jay, and our immersion in the ministries of our Digos mission. Allow me to share some insights on how I see this Kingdom being alive in these days of reflection, sharing, and integration. Fr. D’Alzon is teaching us a strategy on how to work for this Kingdom through our loving passion for Jesus. Without this passion, it will be impossible for us to undertake all the works that we are doing in the midst of the many joys, rewards, temptations, and challenges of religious and missionary life as apostles of the Kingdom (Périer-Muzet, 15 Days with Fr. D’Alzon, 11).
Building the Kingdom of God is being salt of the earth. In the Gospel, Jesus explained that the importance of salt is in the taste it gives. In our Themes of Ecclesiology Class under Fr. Tim Melliza, SSP, there is one video documentary, Becoming a man among the Borana, given to us for reflection. In this documentary, Wario, his brother, and his father Dooba, who belong to a semi-nomadic group (Borana) in Southern Ethiopia, are making a journey to a salt lake called El Sod, where a salt lake can be found in the crater of a volcano. The hardship of the journey just to get the salt and have it brought into the market connote high prices. All those who enjoyed the salt without difficulty are blessed, while those who treat it as a precious commodity, having salt is a luxury since they have to pay a high price and they are more thankful for this grace just like the way the Prophet Elijah and the widow at Zarephath felt during those days without rain. This is the image of the Kingdom- as Fr. D’Alzon says “The Kingdom of God has to be built through our patience and sacrifices.” (ES). As the salt is used for the sanctification in the Old Testament (Leviticus 2;13; Ezekiel 43:24), as Assumptionists, we are called to be salt of the earth- to give flavor to a world that is covered with so much confusion, violence, and hatred. We are called to build the Kingdom, sanctify the world, and season it with the salt of peace, justice, unity, solidarity, and subsidiarity.
Building the Kingdom of God by being the light of the world. Jesus compared the light with the house built on a mountain. This light is Jesus himself, without which, an Assumptionist will never find his calling and mission. The light of Jesus is the torch that we bring in every mission community we are in Adveniat, Pavel, Digos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, and to all the corners of the world. Fr. D’Alzon teaches us, “The source of a religious joy comes from a blossoming of Hope” (CA 7,79,1). As we celebrate the descent of the Holy Fire- the Holy Spirit- we are also empowered as the light for the world. Rooted in our very desire to love and know Jesus, we carry the torch of love and light of Jesus coming from our prayer, community, apostolic and religious life to our apostolate areas, in the GAGMAYANG KRISTOHANONG KATILINGBAN
(GKKs), parishes, mission areas, schools, and daily routine. As we re-examine, re-calibrate and re-convert our communities as centers of hope in the post-pandemic time, borrowing Bishop Jimmy’s words: to know, invite and love Jesus to our religious life, we have to re-encounter Jesus so people may see in us the salt and light of the Kingdom.
As we continue celebrating this Thanksgiving Mass of our annual retreat, Fr. D’Alzon is reminding us that: “A Retreat is not only a combat, it is also conversion.” (CA 8, 23,3). Let us pray for one another and for the people we have met and will still meet as we stay here in this hallowed city of Digos. Let us continue inspiring one another and pray for our brothers and sisters in the world, so they too will become salt and light in Christ for the building of his kingdom.