Feb 5th, 2023: “You are the Salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.”
“You are the Salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.”
May the words from my lips and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing to you O Lord.
Our Gospel reading today is the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. It reveals a theology of discipleship. But it also demonstrates Matthew’s attitude or bias toward the Pharisees. This is an important note as we will spend the next 11 months with the Gospel of Matthew.
Matthew’s Jesus rejects the agenda of the Pharisees. But it does not mean that he rejected the Torah. We see this clearly in today’s reading when the evangelist has Jesus say that he did not come to abolish the Torah and in fact preaches adherence to it. Jesus practiced Torah from a different perspective than the Pharisees. Jesus read the Torah in the context of Kingdom. One already here - not something for future days.
In this section of the sermon on the mount we are told that followers of Jesus already have what they need. We have a theology of discipleship that tells us that following Jesus is not about obeying rules. It is about an orientation toward justice and that this comes from our relationship with God.
The task of the disciples - our task as well, is to humanize life on earth. To disrupt the status quo and work for the Kingdom of God. The task is to value the dispossessed, care for those who suffer loss, seek to do justice, show mercy, have integrity, be a peacemaker and stand for what you believe.
As the salt of the earth and the light of the world we are disciples of Jesus when we allow our characters to be formed by God’s blessings. God’s blessings are the beginning of the call to be followers of Jesus. God’s blessings are the root of our right relationship with God and other humans.
We are to be salt and we are to be light. Not for ourselves - for others. This is an orientation that looks outward and not inward. This is an important reminder. Often we focus on ourselves - our feelings, our sense of faith. And we do it as a congregation as well. And I am guilty of this. I look around and I count how many people are here. And I wonder why people are not coming to Church or if they are why are they not coming on a regular basis? And when I do this - when we do this we have lost our saltiness and our light has been dimmed.
Salt has an edge. Sometimes a pastoral response needs to be confrontational, not only supportive and affirming. Sometimes our behaviour or our attitudes or our words need to be challenged.
Jesus could be both affirming of the person and challenging of behaviour. Challenge leads to change and that leads to perseverance.
We are called to be light to the world. Because there is darkness in the world, both externally and internally.
In today’s readings Jesus’ statements are descriptive. Jesus tells his listeners what they already are not what they might be or could be or should be if only they did x, y or z.
Maybe you have that voice in your head? Maybe you have that sneaking suspicion that you are not doing things right. That you are not enough? That is a treacherous voice. That is a hurtful and damaging voice. That is a voice that separates you from God. This is a terrible burden to feel that you are not enough.
The good news, the mystery is that it is Jesus who gives us our saltiness and our luminescence. It does not come from us. We are enough because we are the salt of the earth. And this salt filled life is a rich life and is defined by enriching others. Looking outward. We are the light of the world. And this bright life is a life that shares the Gospel. Looking outward.