9 February 2020
St. Peter the Apostle & St. William Churches in Naples, FL
Isaiah 58, 7-10 + Psalm 112 + 1 Corinthians 2, 1-5 + Matthew 5, 13-16
These verses follow immediately the Sermon on the Mount that provides us the Beatitudes, which describe a style of life that reflects the image of the one who made us. As Matthew has Jesus commenting further on the Beatitudes, Jesus calls us the salt of the earth with a warning that we can become so bland that we are unable to enhance anything. Then he calls us light like a city on a hill. This is a light that cannot be hidden. So, everything we do gives witness to our faith or the lack of it which is salt that has lost its flavor. We cannot hide. Everything we do, everything we say, every decision we make reveals our faith, and sadly sometimes it isn’t much like flat salt – no flavor. By itself, salt is useless. By choosing this image, Jesus confronts the greatest challenge to the Gospel, individualism. We are not here for ourselves. We are here to bring out the best in God’s creation. The bottom line to this is simple. Our lives must make a difference in this world, or there is no use, no purpose, no reason for us to take up space on this earth. People ought to know we are Catholic, not just by where we are at this moment, or by crucifixes or sacred images in our homes, but by the way we live, by the way of treat other people, and by the simple consequence of just knowing us. People who are “salt of the earth” are not just virtuous in themselves. They bring out the best in other people.
It all comes down to what we heard from old Simeon last week as he stood in the Temple holding the Christ Child and proclaiming him to be a light to the nations. Now, that Christ proclaims us to be that light. The question is whether or not we illumine this world or become nothing more than light pollution, which is defined this way: “the brightening of the night sky caused by street lights and other man-made sources, which has a disruptive effect on natural cycles and inhibits the observation of stars and planets.” There is a lot of bright light around these days, but it does not illuminate anything that matters. What good is a light that only shows people’s faults and shortcomings? Who needs a light that shines on their sinfulness? No wonder some people might prefer the darkness.
The light we become in Christ illumines this world. It brightens dark days and dark lives. It shines on grace and beauty. The light of Christ which we are called to be shines on kindness and hope. Think about it for a minute. No one looks directly at the sun which is the source of light in this world. But, because of the light from the sun we can see. We can see color, and beauty. We all know how dark, gray days bring us down after several of them a row, and how we long for light and the sun. What Jesus expects of us is exactly what the sun does after dark and cold winter days many of us know from up north. When we who are truly disciples, followers, and one with Jesus Christ come into a room it ought to brighten up and bring smiles and comfort, hope, and trust. We have no right to judge others, but we do have an obligation to examine ourselves and decide what we must do because we are salt and light.