Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fifth Sunday Ordinary Time Year A

Fifth Sunday Ordinary Time Year A
Readings: Is 58:7-10; 1 Cor 2:1-5; Mt 5:13-16

Salt of the earth and light of the world are the phrases that help to focus on the central message of this Sunday. In the gospel of this Sunday, Jesus uses two metaphors in his teaching: the salt of the earth and the light of the world. There are four reasons why Jesus uses these two metaphors. 1) The first obvious reason is that Jesus wants to describe the power of influence his disciples have in the situations they find themselves. They have an important role in guiding the people in the way of Jesus Christ. 2) The second reason is that historically, salt has always been a valuable commodity in human society, much more than it is today. 3) The third and most important reason is that unrefined salt had healing qualities in ancient Greek culture. Thus the followers of Jesus were to have an extremely important therapheutic role in the world, much comparable to the function of unpurified salt. 4) The forth reason for us today is that the English word "salary" comes from Latin salarium, "salary", originally a Roman soldier's salary which was paid in salt, which was the “dollar” monetary value of the Roman world.

In saying to his disciples “you are the salt of the earth,” Jesus used the metaphor to underline several disciple qualities. One of the best meanings for the metaphor of salt is its preservative and healing quality. So just as salt is used to preserve food from decay and keep it fresh as well as heal the body, so too Christians by their life of witness, can make a difference by preserving and healing their secular situation. That preservative healing quality of salt implies our being mixed with the affairs of this world. We need to change the flavor of our culture and heal its sickness. To do that, we must be unpurified and maintain our saltiness to sustain our influence. The expression light of the world, comes from Isaiah, who described Israel as “light of the nations” (Is 42:6). In calling his disciples “the light of the world” Jesus refers to their radical way of life that must be distinctive and thus become witnesses for the world to see, like a beacon or a city set on a mountain. Christians become the light of the world through their visible good deeds. The message for this Sunday may be summed up in three points. 1) Just as salt fulfills its function of saltiness by being mixed with food, we too mix with the affairs of daily life and so give the flavor, taste and healing of Christ to a secular situation. 2) We become the light of the world; a beacon that guides others by our exemplary life of witness that makes others see the way to Jesus Christ. 3) The bottom line and take away this Sunday is that we are like unpurified salt and light. We are instruments that transform our secular culture. The secret is to be unrefined salt which brings about healing and and maintains the immune system of society. We must shine out in the darkness of our secular society to make any difference.

©2014 John S. Mbinda

No comments: