It sometimes sucks to be light and salt

Note:  This homily was delivered at the Homecoming Mass of St. Scholastica’s College, 06 February 2011.

The theme of your homecoming is Revolutionize.  I’m not sure what you’re referring to, but I’m guessing it probably has to do with our Silver Jubilarians, Class 1986, who graduated just a month after the 1st EDSA People Power Revolution.   Rumors have it that some of them haven’t quite forgiven the late Cardinal Sin because they had to cancel their graduation ball because of the popular uprising.   But the good news is that the sisters are willing to sponsor your graduation ball 25 years later as long as you all promise to dance to the top Billboard dance tune of 1986, which, of course, is “Walk Like An Egyptian.”

Seriously though, our Gospel reading today is about revolutionaries.   When our Lord asks His disciples to be light and salt, He is asking them to become nothing short of revolutionaries.  It’s not easy to be light and salt in the world today, as we’ve seen in the most unexpected places recently.

To be light can mean a lot of things, but one of them is to speak the truth, especially to stand up for the truth and to risk one’s life in the process.  Case in point:  Budget officer retired Lieutenant George Rabusa shocked us all when before the Blue Ribbon Committee and on national television, he made his revelations about the systematic corruption in the Armed Forces that allegedly involved a number of top generals.  I was in the middle of writing a paper but couldn’t pry myself away from the TV as Rabusa recited a litany of incredible exposes.

It takes courage to be a light in a world where it’s so much easier and so much more fashionable to hide in the dark.  Being light to the world also comes with a price.  When his deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Sammy Lim, pleaded for protection from Congress, his words revealed how much he feared for his life and his family.  He and Rabusa, both hardened military men accustomed to the dangers of battle, wiped away their tears

Let’s talk about salt.  Salt does two important things to food:  Salt adds flavor to food, but it also preserves it.  So when our Lord tells us to be the salt of the earth, that’s exactly what He is asking us to do:  To bring out the best of ourselves and others, and to preserve it when it is in danger of extinction.  What that entails was also demonstrated for all of us to see quite recently, again on national television, and again during the Blue Ribbon Committee hearings. We all got more than a sprinkling of salt in the person of Heidi Mendoza.  A daughter of a police officer and herself a reserve officer in the military with a rank of lieutenant colonel, Heidi has become an expert in fraud investigations.  She ended her quiet life when probably against the advice of those closest to her, she testified before the Congress to expose anomalous transactions involving top generals in the military.   Who can forget Heidi’s brave and inspiring words?  “I appeared before this committee if only to tell our fellow Filipino people and the lowly soldiers that hindi lahat ng Pilipino ay corrupt, hindi lahat ng nagtatrabaho sa gobyerno ay naghahanapbuhay lamang at walang paninindigan.”

In her last appearance before the Senate, Heidi tearfully begged that she never be summoned again because of the threats that her family had been receiving.  Being salt, like being light, can be quite costly.

And so as these two brave souls have shown us, it takes nothing less than a revolutionary to be light and salt because it sometimes sucks to be light and salt.

Homecomings are a time for touching base—touching base with former teachers and childhood friends we may have lost touch with.  I hope you can take time out from the celebration to thank God for all the people who have been light and salt to your years in St. Scho.But homecomings allow you to touch base not only with people, but also with all that is good and noble that your alma mater has taught you, those slogans and cliches that the sisters and your teachers kept repeating and which have actually turned out to be true.  I pray that this touching base will also lead to soul searching.  And if for some reason, you find your life wanting in being light to the world and salt to the earth, perhaps it’s truly time to revolutionize.  It’s never too late to start a little revolution of your heart.

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