Homily for the fifth Sunday in the year
Year A - Mt. 5:13-16
Father Daniel Meynen
"Jesus said: «You are the salt of the earth; but if salt
has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer
good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.
"«You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot
be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel,
but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your
light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory
to your Father who is in heaven.»"
"Jesus said: «You are the salt of the earth.»"
The Gospel passage we read today is very well-known: Jesus speaks
to us of the role that his disciples, that we Christians, play in the world
in which we live as we await the new world, that which God will unveil
to us when he returns in the end times! "You are the salt of
the earth," Jesus said. What does this mean? Aren't the disciples
of Christ men and women, like all the other men and women of this world?
Yes, certainly. But there is a difference: the disciples of
Christ have something more that changes them into other beings. Jesus
said: "You ARE the salt of the earth."
The disciples of Christ are different from the other men and women of
the earth. Jesus said so when, speaking of his disciples, he prayed
to his Father on the day before his Passion: "They are not of the
world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:16) It is evident
that Jesus bases this difference on that which he himself is! Now,
Jesus is first, and always, the Son of God: he is man, but he is
above all the Son of God, born of the Father before all time. So,
similarly, but according to an other relation, the disciples of Christ
are also sons of God: they participate in the divine life which the
Father gives them in his Son through the Holy Spirit!
To the extent that we hope for eternal life, God makes us "partakers
of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4) which belongs to him. If we keep
our eyes turned toward Heaven, if we are faithful in awaiting the Savior
who will come to renew the face of the earth, then we are no longer similar
to the other men and women of the world: we are sons of
God in hope, for "in this hope we were saved." (Rm. 8:24) It
is therefore necessary for us to ask the Lord to maintain us in this holy
hope; otherwise, the salt which we are will be tasteless, and Jesus
will say: "If salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be
restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and
trodden under foot by men."
"«You are the light of the world.»"
If the figure of salt may seem banal and without magnificence, on the
other hand that of light dazzles us and could make us lose our senses.
Think about what happened to the angel who was called "Light-bearer," or
"Lucifer"! There is a risk, and it is very real. Yet, these
are the very words of the Lord: "You are the light of the world."
How then can we be, without risk, "the light of the world"? Is it
possible? If Jesus said these words, and he did indeed say them,
then there is no doubt that it is possible. How, then? Simply
by not being a light in ourselves, as Lucifer was, but rather a light in
God alone and for God alone!
Saint Paul himself taught this, when he wrote to the Ephesians:
"Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children
of light." (Ep. 5:8) He who is not a light in the Lord cannot be
a true light. If we want to be a light for the world and participate
in the mission of Jesus who comes to illuminate every man on earth (cf.
Jn. 1:9), then, we have to live in God and accomplish works of salvation,
and not works of eternal death. "The fruit of light is found in all
that is good and right and true, and try to learn what is pleasing to the
Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness." (Ep. 5:9-11)
Therefore, we don't need to accomplish dazzling and magnificent things
in order to be a light of the world. It is sufficient for us to remain
in the Lord, who is the true light coming into this world: we can
be missionaries and illuminate the whole world while remaining in the obscurity
of our present condition, unremarkable, without prominence, but full of
love for God and man. Wasn't Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, who
never left her Carmel, proclaimed a patron saint of the missions along
with Saint Francis Xavier, who did go to faraway missions? There
is no doubt: Saint Theresa was also a great light in Christ, she
who is now a Doctor of the Church!
Salt of the earth, light of the world! Two symbols for us to meditate
upon! May the Lord deign to illuminate us further on this point.
Let us ask this of him during the course of this eucharistic celebration.
May Mary, the most magnificent of the lights in Christ, help us through
her prayer! May Jesus be given to us through Mary today!