Year of Faith Reflection: Salt, Light and Leaven. Seeds of God's Kingdom in the Garden of the World
extension, as a place to be avoided, still infects and can lead to a kind "ghetto mentality" whereby Christians withdraw from the world. Some of the confusion can also come from failing to understand the differing ways the phrase "the world" is used in the New Testament.
There is "the world" that God created and looked upon and said "it is good". (See e.g. Genesis, chapter 1). That world is still good. It is filled with beauty and reflects the Divine artist and architect who made it. That world He entrusted to the crown of his creation - man and woman.
Then there is a system, the culture of death and use, which has squeezed God out of His rightful place and substituted idols. That system is also called "the world" in the bible. (See, e.g. James 4:4). We are not to "love" that world, in the sense of giving ourselves over to its dominion. We are to reject that system in order to free those enchained by its lies.
The Father wants to bring the entire human race back into a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Chris, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Those who live in Jesus Christ, by living in the Church which is His Body, are sent on mission into the world in order to bring all men and women into the new world of the Church.
The power to effect redemptive change in the world comes from the life of God within us. It is amazing how little leaven it takes to raise a loaf of bread. That is because within those little particles of yeast is found the power to ferment, to change the lump of wet dough into a loaf of aromatic, tasty, nourishing bread. However, the power contained within that yeast is not activated unless it is mixed and kneaded into the dough.
Once you work the leaven in, it is still hidden to the eye but how it transforms that loaf! So it is with Christians within human culture! The power within us is the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead (See Romans 8:11)! All we are asked to do is to mix it up. We have to get in the loaf. We must be in the world - where Jesus is - in order to be used to accomplish His ongoing work of redemption.
Leaven that is not used in time spoils and loses its capacity to ferment that dough; it must be active or it becomes useless. That leaven must be in the dough to effect its extraordinary change. So it is with all of us. We must be "in the world" to effect its transformation. Once hidden in the loaf, leaven always raises the dough. It also takes human effort - it must be kneaded and worked into the loaf.
So it is with our lives of faith. Faith is a verb, it must be exercised. By living in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world we bring the world back to God. This kind of missionary mindset has inspired great missionary ages in the past and brought extraordinary changes to entire cultures. It can once again! However, it always begins one person, one grain, at a time.
The seed of the kingdom, the living Word, has been planted within us. And now, we become the seed, the salt and the leaven for the Divine Sower who continues His redemptive mission in a world waiting to be reborn in Him.He now spreads us in the field of the world to bear a harvest for the Kingdom to come.
We are called to live at the crossroads of the world as leaven of the new world of which the Church is a seed and sign. This way of life is what the New Evangelization is about. This new reality should guide our participation in the Year of Faith.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: mustard seed, sower and seed, light of the world, leaven, yeast, parables of the kingdom, year of faith, new evangelization, Deacon Keith Fournier
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