Isaiah 58:7-10/Psalm 112:4-9/1 Corinthians 2:1-5/Matthew 5:13-16
REV. FR. PHILIP MARIO EKWELI
Dear friends in Christ, today is the 5th Sunday in ordinary time year A. The theme of our reflection today: “BE THE SALT AND THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD”. These two elements are substantial and vital to the existence of humanity. Without these great elements, the world will be meaningless and plunge into utter darkness and shamble. Hence we need to uphold them tenaciously in order to live out the desired mind of God. Either of these great elements have some splendid characteristics that could teach us great lessons about God and living out his kingdom here on earth.
” You are the salt of the earth …” This is statement is directional and also individual. It is a pointer to an individual and not collective in nature. Each follower of Jesus Christ must necessarily exhibits these great qualities to live a fulfilled life. When Jesus said, you are the salt of the earth…he provided men with an expression which has become the greatest compliment that can be paid to any man. When we wish to stress some one’s solid worth and usefulness, we say of him or her, “people like that are the salt of the earth”.
In the ancient world, salt was highly valued. The Greeks called salt divine(theion). The Romans said; ” there is nothing more useful than sun and light”(Nil utilius sole et sale). In the time of Jesus, salt was connected in people’s minds with three special qualities: (1) salt was connected with purity: *To the Romans, salt was the purest of all things and it is being offered to the goods.* So then, if the Christian is to be the salt of the earth he must be an example of purity.*One of the characteristics of the world in which we live I’d the lowering of standards.*Standards of honesty, stands of diligence in work, conscientiousness, moral standards, all tend to be lowered.*The Christian must be the person who holds a lot the standard of absolute purity in speech, in conduct, and even in thought.*it was J. Y. Simpson who opines, “No Christian can defend from the standards of strict honesty.
In another statement from this same gospel text, Jesus says ” You are the light of the world …(Mtt5:14-15). The Jewish people were very sure that no man kindled his own light. Jerusalem was indeed a light to the Gentiles, but ” God lit Israel’s lamp”. The light with which the nation or the man of God shone was a borrowed light(Jn8:12). It is not the demand of Jesus that we should as it were, produce our own light.
We must shine with the reflection of his light. The radiance which shines from the Christian comes from the presence of Christ within the Christian’s heart. When Jesus said that the Christian must be the light of the world, what did he mean?(1) A light is first and foremost something which is meant to be seen. *The primary duty of the light of the lamp was to be seen*So, then Christianity is something which is meant to be seen*Someone said, there can be no such thing as secret discipleship, for either the secrecy destroys the discipleship or discipleship destroys the secrecy. *A man’s Christianity should be perfectly visible to all men *Our Christianity should be visible in the way we treat others.*He meant to say, in a man’s life in the world his Christianity should be evident to all.(2)A light is guide. It makes clear the way.* A Christian must make the way clear to others.*He/she must of necessity be an example.*it is the Christian duty to take the Stand which others follow.(3) A light can be a warning light. *It is the Christian duty to bring to his follow men the necessary warning .*The light which can be seen, warns, guides and the light Christian must be.*In Mtt5:16, “let your light so shine before men…; How? (1) Men are to see our good deeds. Agathos means good, Kalos means good and attracts – our first reading Isaiah 58:7-10. *The good deeds of the Christian must be not only good, they must be also attractive. *There is a goodness which attracts and a goodness which repels.*There is a charm in true Christian goodness which makes it a lovely thing. (2) Our good deeds ought to draw attention, not to ourselves, but to God. *The Christian never thinks of he/she has done, but of what God has enabled him to do. *He never seeks to draw the eyes of men to himself, but always to direct them to God. *As long as men are thinking of the praise, the thanks, the prestige which they will get for what they have done, they have not really even began on the Christian way.
In conclusion, if a Christian is not fulfilling his purpose as a Christian, then he is on the way to disaster. We are meant to be the salt of the earth, and if only we do not bring to life the purity, the antiseptic power, the radiance that we ought, then we invite disaster. Also, we must let our good deeds shine before all, share your light – Be a Beacon to the world.May the good God make us salt and light of the world. And may our saltiness not lost and our light never become dim or put off through Jesus Christ our Lord amen.
Rev. Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai
Our call to salt and light of the earth
Matthew 5 can be divided into nine different parts, the first of these is Sermon on the Mount called the beatitude – Christ commentary on our attitude. Next to it is the teaching on the gospel of salt and light. Familiar images that describe the life of discipleship. How discipleship is supposed to be practiced. Every disciple is called to be salt and light at all times. In fact the readings today are centered on the theme of light basically even though the gospel talks about salt. Light and salt were precious and valuable commodities in ancient cultures. Even today, no one can claim comfort without light or hold on to a meal without salt. Therefore, we shall examine what we are called to do as Disciples of Christ in the light of the purposes of light and salt.
We are called to be models: In the first reading, the theme of light displayed; in verses 8 and 10 Israel was reminded that social justice will cause her ‘light’ to shine. For Isaiah Israel’s destiny is to be ‘a light to the nations’; by modeling before the world what a truly human society should be. This batten of faith has been handed over to us; the gospel of today says we are the light of the world. This is the role of Christians to the world. Followers of Christ are the light of Christ. Wherever light is present darkness is disappears. You can’t claim to be a light and not shine, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden; you cannot light a lamp and put it in a cupboard. Therefore we must shine, through acts of social justice, right moral living. A Christians who tell lies and pervert justice is not shining, the one that takes bribe, and compromises the truth still leaves in darkness. What kind of model are you? We are called to be models that others will see and we love to imitate in Acts11:26 it was in Antioch that the disciples were first of all called Christians; why? Because they behaved like Christ. They true models of Christ life.
We are called to drive darkness away: John 8:12 Jesus says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. In Eccl2:13 scriptures says light is better than darkness. A blind understands this better. Again in Matt.4:16 the bible says the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. And in John 1:5 the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Beloved in Christ, don’t allow darkness to hide inside you or around you. Darkness allows all that is, diabolic, deadly and devilish. As disciples drive darkness away from your territory.
We are called to bring others to Christ: The gospel continues saying: Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. This does not mean that you should do things to impress those around you. If you seek to impress man you will be depressed in spirit, because that is not the will that is in the heart of the Father. It does not also mean “notice me” kind of attitude. Some people’s faith is at the level of ‘notice me’! When you come to church you must be noticed, when you are on the pew you must be noticed, that kind of worship lacks authenticity and it breeds faithlessness. To shine here does not also mean you should provoke others to envy, or outdo others, neither is it to show off, we don’t do good works to show off that we are rich, or that we have the best of shoes, or cars, of phones, we do good works so that our Father will be glorified. To shine therefore means to influence others positively.
On the other hand, we have the image of salt. Matt.5:13 says “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Salt had many purposes; basically we shall emphasized three:
We are called to preserve values: In ancient time salt was used as preservatives; it preserves food from rotting or decay. In the same vein, followers of Christ we must preserve the people will meet from corruption and decay; we must preserve them from falsehood and fraud. Iron today shows that it is even men of God that introduces people into dirty jokes, scam and ills. Let us preserve the world from these fallen situation and moral decadence. Let save our children from lesbianism, and gay practices, let us beam the ray of light into their hearts. We are called to preserve virtues and not to destroy it.
We are called to enhance flavor: Salt makes food pleasant. In the Old Testament nothing was offered to God without been season by salt to make it pleasant. Lev. 2:13 says you must put salt in every cereal offering… in Ezk 43:24 the same use of salt was prescribed. In the same vein it is the Spirit of God that gives flavor to Christian life. through the Spirit therefore, Christians are to enhance the flavor of the earth, Christians are to bring revival and renewal to the lukewarm around them, they are to give hope to the hopeless, as Christians people should see you and become hopeful; they should see you and find reason to live and reasons to serve the Lord.
We are called to be friendly: Salt is also a symbol of friendship in some cultures. As Christians the salt of our faith should make us friendly, learn to cultivate cheerful attitude towards people and friends. Don’t always appear like lion or an angry dog, cheerfulness is a strategy in evangelization. Again, to be friendly equally demands wisdom, Prov. 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. This means that one is a product of the people that surrounds him. If I want to grow physically and spiritually I need to nurture friendships with people that have similar goals. Prov. 16:28 “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” The friend that goes about gossiping is a bad salt that should be trodden under feet. Therefore, followers of Christ who want to be true salt to the earth must map out friendship the pleases the Lord. 1Cor.15:33 “do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” May God give us the grace to be true salt and light of the earth.