Have you noticed that people and places in the Dioceses have been in the news in recent times?
Take the focus on Longford for example with the passing of the former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds.
The challenges of up-keeping Crom Castle in County Fermanagh were also the focus of media attention. Viscount Crichton whose family have been living in Crom for 350 years was the subject of a documentary “Keeping the Castle” shown by the BBC.
Sadly Florence Court (in Florencecourt Group) on the other side of Lough Erne was in the news because of an arson attack on a beautiful rustic summerhouse.
Sligo, too, was the centre of attention with the annual Fleadh Cheoil, which brought traditional music to its streets. Over in Roscommon, Boyle was featured in an Irish Times’ piece about the plight of “forgotten towns”. Nearby Carrick-on-Shannon in County Leitrim felt the pinch of redundancy as the MBNA Bank reduced its workforce in the town.
People and places feature heavily in the story of God in the Bible. Out of the debris of Eden when people turned their back on the Creator God, He takes the initiative. From an elderly couple, Abraham and Sarah, God promises a people who will have a place on the earth. Israel, the people of God as they became, are to be a blessing to the peoples of the earth.
Jesus takes up this theme in His Sermon on the Mount, found in the Gospel of Matthew. Speaking to His people, the Church, Jesus describes their essential character. They are to be salt and light, metaphors, which indicate their influence for good in the world.
As salt, the Church was to penetrate the world, to savour and to restrain the world’s tendency to deteriorate. Light illuminates the darkness, which permeates the world.
Through the Dioceses, each church, a distinct local community of faith, exists to be salt and light: as salt being distinct yet part of the community bringing flavour and keeping things from decay. Likewise, light shines as a beacon of truth and love for Jesus.
How can we be salt and light among the people and places where God has located us? Prayer functions like salt through which God works in a community. Outreach and social action also act like light in a place.
Reaching out to people draws them into the light of Christ. Working together for the good of all in the community is a practical example of what matters to Jesus.
Salt and light, that’s what Jesus says we are and what we should be among the people and places he has placed us.
+ Bishop Ferran