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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus calls his followers salt and light, thus exhorting them to evangelize their culture.

The theme of Jesus’ “inaugural address” is conversion: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” And the motif of his final words is mission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” The Christian life is lived in between, and under the conditioning of, these two imperatives.

Having been seized by the beauty of revelation, our only proper response is a change of life and a commitment to become a missionary on behalf of what we have seen. In the scriptural tradition, no vision or experience of God is ever given for the edification of the visionary; rather, it is given for the sake of mission. Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Peter, and Paul are visionaries because they are missionaries.

When Jesus crucified and risen is not proclaimed, a beige and unthreatening Catholicism emerges, a thought system that is, at best, an echo of the environing culture. Peter Maurin, one of the founders of the Catholic Worker Movement, said that the Church has taken its own dynamite and placed it in hermetically sealed containers and sat on the lid.