This week I was reading a travel magazine which told the story of a couple named Mike and Gayle Quarmby who had lost their adult son several years ago in a tragic accident at home. It made them think about their own future and they decided to put their grief-struck energy into helping other people’s adult children. They sold their house and their business and started to work with indigenous young men and women both in the Northern Territory and South Australia. They helped them to grow and market their own food. Their bush tucker program is known as Outback pride and Mike and Gayle donated their time and about $250,000 of their own money towards it. They now have 20 aboriginal communities dotted around Central and southern Australia growing a wide range of bush foods that are sold in gourmet shops and some supermarkets. They had intended to do this for only five years but seven years later they are still going strong.
This Sunday we hear the words from the prophet Isaiah from the First Reading where he says, “Share your bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless poor…turn not from your own kin…then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over.” This is a call to redirect the pain we experience in our lives into a force for good.
When we experience pain whether it be physical, psychological or emotional pain the temptation when we pray is to focus on the pain. This is understandable especially when the feelings we experience are intense. However, the problem is we emerge from our prayer feeling no better than when we started. At these times we are called to focus on God and allow him to lead us. The answer we will receive is a call to serve others in some way. If we respond positively then we will experience the light that God continually holds out to us.
The Gospel from this Sunday calls us to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. This is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and follows the Beatitudes. The Greek word for Blessed is markarios and it means a serene untouchable joy, a joy that sorrow, grief and loss and powerless against. This is not minimising the reality of pain that we can experience in our lives but rather it gives us the means to overcome it. Whenever we redirect our energy into a force for good then we become ‘light’ and ‘salt’ to others.
Ultimately nothing can stop us making a difference to the lives of others unless we allow it to.