By Brother Brian Boyle, C.PP.S.
In a story from 19th century intellectual and theologian John Hutton, a man who had been a drunkard was captured by Christ. His workmates used to try to shake his newfound faith and said to him, “Surely a sensible man like you cannot believe in the miracles that the Bible talks about. You cannot believe that this Jesus of yours turned water into wine.”
The man said, “I do not know, but in my own house I have seen him turning beer into furniture. “
Bring the Lord into your life and two complementary things happen: you do good things in the place around you, the world at large. Also, you become a better person. In the Isaiah reding, we are mandated to shelter the oppressed and feed the hungry. More importantly, we are also mandated to stop malicious speech and false accusations against each other. Stop dividing our house against each other. When we stop doing this, only then we will be protected.
Paul is referencing a time when we he was debating a group of philosophers in Athens and lost. He played their game but failed to get the message of salvation across. Losing the debate was a good thing. He resolved not to rely on human wisdom, but only on the power of God. The former drunkard does not know how (cause and effect) God changed his life. He just experiences the power of God through Christian faith and active recovery.
In the Gospel, Jesus compares us to salt. Salt is a symbol of purity and flavor. If we work on our own purity but add no flavor, then our efforts go to waste. Each of us as a grain of salt can be pure, but that is meant to be shared with others (the flavor). Hence, why keep the light under a bushel?
The former drunkard in the story may have recovered through a 12-Step process. The 12 Steps help the recovering alcoholic live a good life for himself or herself. It also helps the recovering alcoholic build right relationships among others. Recovery is not merely a personal but communal experience. These readings ask us to not just to live good lives but to be something for someone else.
Brother Brian Boyle, C.PP.S., is a hospital chaplain in Northwest Indiana. He is also the associate director of Companions (lay associates) of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.