Last year I read Kurosawa’s book that now has been adapted into the film “Silence” by director Martin Scorsese. It is a moving tribute to the so-called “hidden Christians” of Japan. In that country, the spread of the faith was met with harsh and brutal persecution of the believers. The Catholics were always trying to avoid detection and capture. In time, they learned to successfully “hide” their faith.

Certainly, the Lord Jesus Christ understands why persecuted Christians everywhere will need to hide their faith from their enemies. But the spirit of the faith will and can never be hidden. Todays gospel (Mt. 5: 13-16) reveals Jesus’ vision of his disciples – you are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world.

Becoming salt and light does not mean growing in pride and ostentation about one’s faith. It has something to do with charity, which is the mark of the true follower of the Lord. The first reading (Is. 58) says that “your light shall break forth” only when you share your bread with the hungry, clothe the naked and not turn your back on your people. Salt and light are images that remind us to beg God for the grace of increased charity and service for others.

Becoming salt and light does not mean becoming militant about our faith. There are many aggressive groups of Catholics that proclaim how strong their faith is, how proud they are as faithful, how courageous they are to defend their faith.  The second reading (1 Cor 2) shows us how Paul had nothing to cling on to, except to his faith in Jesus Christ, “and him crucified.” His only weapon was the power of God through the Holy Spirit.

Ka Luring was a simple catechist who taught catechism in the public schools, visited the poor in their homes, shared whatever she had with the needy, and prayed sincerely for those in need. Long dead, she is still remembered as the model catechist, not because she was powerful but because she was true to her faith. She, as Jesus intended, became salt and light of the world. May we have the same love and courage that made her life beautiful.

Let us remember to pray for persecuted Christians everywhere…