Yesterday my wife and I decided to go to the later Mass (11:30 a.m.) at St. Anthony of Padua Church, Atlanta, and it turned out that the Gospel reading, the homily and God’s sense of humor brought it all home to us in a practical fashion.
In yesterday’s Gospel from Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus challenged us to be “the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” Our actions as Christians must demonstrate to those around us that we follow Jesus Christ and we strive to model him in our words and deeds.
In his homily Deacon Levi Jelks said we must be the salt in a world that has gone on a salt-free diet. “Like salt we as Christians are called to be of special flavor within society, within our church, within our families and on our jobs or on our college campuses,” said Jelks. “We are called to be a beacon of light for those who are spiritually lost and stumbling in moral darkness,” said Jelks.
It’s no small challenge to live up to, but with the help of the Eucharist and reflection upon the sacred Scriptures, it’s possible.
After an enlightening message the liturgy unfolded in a normal fashion until it was time for holy Communion. Just as the priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion were coming off the altar and the ushers were leading people to the foot of the altar, the lights went out in the entire church. The only light in the church was the candlelight on the altar and the ambient light from outdoors penetrating the ornate stained glass windows of the 87-year-old structure.
When the power failed, the instruments accompanying the choir also stopped, so the choir sang, an a cappella version of Reuben Morgan’s “I Give You My Heart.” It was a powerful moment and a compelling visual to go up to receive the body and blood of Christ in a darkened sanctuary after hearing the word of God on the topic of salt and light.
We later found out that the surrounding neighborhood had lost its power as well. It was further indication that our light must shine beyond the boundaries of our church and spill out into the community around us.
Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer