Bishop Anthony B. Taylor will deliver this recorded homily Feb. 4-5 at all Masses.
Do you know why the colors of the Vatican flag are white and yellow? The answer I like best is that as Catholics we are called to be what Jesus calls us to be in today’s Gospel: the salt of the earth and the light of the world, hence white — salt — and yellow — light.
Salt is a powerful spice, so while a grain of salt may seem pretty small, it has a powerful effect in making food taste good. Moreover, salt preserves food from spoilage. So also we are called to bring goodness to others and to do all that we can to prevent spoilage — moral decay — in our own lives and in that of society.
And just as light dispels the darkness, so also we are called to bring hope and clarity, truth and goodness into a world filled with people stumbling in the dark.
On Good Friday the powers of darkness did their worst, but on Easter Sunday Jesus rose victorious, and you have been offered a share in the salvation he has won for us who now form his body, the Church. And then he sends us forth as Church to be salt and light for others.
Today I invite you to be salt and light, to do your share in the building of the kingdom of God. We do it in union with Jesus and as members of his body the Church, hence our annual Catholic Arkansas Sharing Appeal, CASA.
CASA assists with those things that go beyond the capacity of our individual parishes: vocations, Catholic Charities, our faith formation programs, Catholic schools, Hispanic ministry, our deacon formation program, our tribunal and many others.
During the last eight years we have used CASA money to provide a building for our Catholic Charities offices and build a House of Formation, which has allowed us to form many of our college-level seminarians right here at home. Most recently we refurbished a building at Good Counsel Parish in Little Rock to serve as an annex to our House of Formation, in which I and others now reside. This was paid for in part by the sale of the previous bishop’s residence. And thanks be to God, I will have the privilege of ordaining 13 new priests in the next two years, in addition to the five we ordained last year.
Our next project to be funded out of CASA will be the complete remodeling of Fletcher Hall at our St. John Diocesan Center at an estimated cost of $2.5 million. This building is used to provide a place for us to have retreats for young and old. Many of our young people have been able to encounter the living Christ for the first time in their lives there through programs like Search.
Any of you who have used this retreat center know how badly this 50-year-old building is in need of a drastic overhaul. If you decide to say “yes” to being salt and light, you will be part of this retreat ministry and this will help others to become salt and light as well. So I ask you to make an investment in faith.
A description of many of the ways your CASA donations are used to build up the Church in Arkansas can be found in this week’s issue of the Arkansas Catholic. If you are not yet a subscriber, please sign up. Subscription envelopes are being provided to you along with your CASA pledge card to be filled out during this Mass.
In our diocese we ask that you give 1 percent of your gross income to CASA. For instance, if you earn $50,000 per year, pledge to give $50 per month for the next 10 months and that is 1 percent.
If everyone participates, we will affect lives for many years to come. Thank you for your generosity in the past and thanks in advance for an even more generous response this year. This is one way in which you can be the salt of the earth and the light of the world in Arkansas today. Please join me in making not only CASA but indeed this entire year a shared blessing for everyone.
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