Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 9, 2002
You are salt of the earth and light of the world
By EMMA KATE VETSCH
"You are the salt of the earth. . . . You are the light of the world. . . . Let your light shine before others"
What did World Youth Day mean to me? I was deeply touched by so much throughout the week, especially by little moments: snapshots of memories stored in the album of my heart. These moments taught me what it means to be salt of the earth and light of the world, which was the theme of World Youth Day:
You are the salt of the earth. Salt adds taste. A hundred bodies packed into a single train car, sitting, standing, kneeling, draped over chair backs. The familiar prayer of the Mass unfolds as unfamiliar landscape flies past the window. Our voices rise above the chug-chug of wheels on tracks as we sing in thanksgiving and anticipation. I begin to taste the spirit of community and the faith that has pointed us eastward. I begin to taste an encounter with Jesus.
You are the light of the world. What's this? The train has made a brief stop in Sioux Lookout, Ont. and we disembark to stretch our legs. Pop, muffins, donuts, sandwiches, and a banner greet us: "Welcome WYD 2002 Pilgrims!" One community reaches out to another, younger and searching community. Within 20 minutes, the people of Sioux Lookout share their light, supporting us on our journey towards discovering our own light. Their light is in friendly smiles, handshakes, simply opening their love to strangers.
You are the salt of the earth. "Where are you from?" The United States, Italy, France, Germany, Brazil, Colombia, Africa. . . . What people! Words, as well as gifts, smiles, prayers and songs are exchanged, later to be stored in the heart. Each encounter seasons the experience of World Youth Day, bringing out the full flavour of the event. We are not isolated in our faith, it is shared with and deepened by our brothers and sisters.
You are the light of the world. We gather to welcome the Holy Father on Thursday. The grounds of Exhibition Place are tight with people, stepping around, under and over. I feel anger and impatience. Next to me, my friend welcomes each new face, opening his heart to each person's need. A light in my darkness. He teaches me that a light is meant to shine, not to be hidden under the bowl of my own discomfort. I open my eyes and see the true Light.
You are the salt of the earth. I stand before the World Youth Day cross, in Duc in Altum park. I stand on holy ground, for God is present. This wood, venerated in many languages, carried with love by a thousand hands, a sign of Jesus loving us, and us loving Jesus. This quiet moment, like salt, preserves, maintaining my spirit with his.
You are the light of the world. Bodies fit together like puzzle pieces across the ground. More push their way through Downsview, stepping around, under and over. I'm relieved for Thursday's lesson. I am not here for the best view, I am here for Jesus.
We sing songs of hope and faith. We pray together. May we be light for the other tired pilgrims surrounding us.
You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.
World Youth Day was an incredible experience, and I pray that these snapshots remain with me, in my memory, in my spirit and in my actions.