Our World Needs Our Light And Sweetness Now!
Readings: (1st: Ish 58, 7-10; Ps 111, 4-9; 2nd: Heb2, 1-5; Gos: Matt 5 13-16)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
On this fifth Sunday of ordinary time, the Holy Mother Church reminds us that she is a light in the dark. Hence, she equally reminds us her children that, the light will be brighter if all Christians were really like Christ.
In our first reading, the prophet Isaiah tells us what we must do for our light to shine: “Share your bread with the hungry…shelter the homeless…cloth the naked…” These form the Church’s corporal works of mercy. The United Nations declared them as Fundamental Human Rights in 1948. They are the basic necessities of life. So, their depravation rubs humanity of her dignity, and leaves her in perpetual darkness. This would amount to structural injustice, as well as a sin against Charity. Therefore, we must be “that good man, who is light in the dark for the up right.”
In the second reading, Paul testified that he was “light” to the Corinthians. His presence illuminated their darkness. Also, as “salt”, he helped in preserving their salvation. He did this not only through his words but through his actions. He recalled thus: “When I came to you, brothers it was not with any show of oratory or philosophy, but simply to tell you what God had granted.” Paul did this in a very simple way, through his words and good works.
He proved to be indeed the light through which the pagan Corinthians saw the light of Christ. He was the salt which sweetened and preserved their lives. Therefore, our encounter with people must leave them better than we met them. It must wipe off the dust of worry, shame, despair, and disappointment. It must liberate them from ignorance, and help them to appreciate the truth by drawing close to God.
In today’s gospel, Jesus calls us “salt.” In the Old Testament, salt was used to season the sacrificial offerings for sins and covenant with God: “Season all your grain offerings with salt; you shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be lacking from your cereal offering…” (Lev 2,13). Also, land agreements were sealed with a gift of salt as a proof of the strength and permanence of the contract. Salt was also a symbol of God’s activity in a person’s life. This is because, it penetrates, preserves, and aids in healing. That is how God becomes active in our lives. So, when Christ calls us “salt”, he wants us to make a difference in our world. We must penetrate and preserve our world from moral, spiritual and physical or environmental decay. As salts, we must add taste and flavor to people’s lives.
Again, Christ calls us “light.” In fact, he gives us a command: “Your light must shine in the sight of men…!” Light does not shine for itself. Hence, Christ tells us why we must shine: “So that men may see your good works and give praise to God.” Good works here mean corporal and spiritual works of mercy as we saw them in our first reading. To give praise means to acknowledge, and to be moved. It means to be affected positively by our light. As light, we must represent: “What is good, pure, true, holy, and reliable” (Phil 4, 8).
Finally, we must not conceal God’s gift. Since “charity begins at home,” so, we must first, be light and salt in our homes and communities. Also, our world must feel the positive effects of our light. We must not starve it of the sweetness of our testimonies and good works.
Peace be with you!