Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Kuwait City, 7-9.02.2014.
Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič

Is 58:7-10; 1 Cor 2:1-5; Mt 5:13-16

In our modern ways of communicating with each other we oftentimes hear many adjectives used when describing people or events. Today when someone wishes to compliment another person many like to say ‘you’re wonderful’ or ‘fantastic’, or when something big happens it is not only ‘great’ but ‘awesome’!

Our Lord Jesus didn’t used many adjectives when speaking to people, since he preferred nouns and in today’s gospel he uses two words which might seem strange to our ears. In paying his followers a great compliment Jesus says that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

The greatest quality of salt is that it provides flavour to food. Our faith in God should also add fulfillment to life just as salt adds flavour to meat and fish. A great danger exists for us and for those around us if our religious practice and life becomes a dull and gloomy affair, if we are sad all the time and even come home from church more depressed than when we went. Even though life can be at times full of worries, as believers we are nevertheless called to be an example of serenity and calm. In a sad and evil world, the Christian should always remain full of joy and hope. In an unjust society, the believer in Christ shows justice to all in words and deeds.

Jesus goes on to say that, those who believe in him are the light of the world. It is interesting that he calls us the light of the world, when in John’s gospel he refers to himself as the light of the world (Cf. Jn 9:5). How can there be two lights? In fact, there is only one and that remains God, but here Jesus is challenging us to participate in his light so that we too might become a light for others.

A light is meant to be seen and therefore our faith is not a private matter that we keep for ourselves, but something that should be visible and noticeable in our lives. Others should recognize in us our good deeds and give glory to God. Too many secret or private believers prefer to limit their faith only to the Sunday liturgy, while living the rest of the week in contrast to what they say they believe in.

How are we to practice this in our daily lives so that we can truly become the salt of the earth and the light of the world? An answer is provided in the first reading where the prophet Isaiah spells out in clear terms what God wants us to do: Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed.

Isaiah is challenging us to practice mercy, kindness and justice to others who are less fortunate and are in greater need than us. Turn not from your own is an important and challenging statement. The prophet is reminding us that we should never turn away, ignore, or be indifferent to those who are of our own flesh and blood, that is, our families, relatives and our co-nationals. It can happen that we take them for granted, that we do not appreciate them enough, because we think we know them well and therefore they do not need any extra attention. Those who are closest to us, our own kin, should be the first to receive our mercy, kindness, understanding and love.

All our good deeds are to be done with a sense of gratitude and devotion to God who is our salt of wisdom and the true light of the world. These deeds are not to be done in order to be admired by people or to draw attention to ourselves. Instead, they should draw attention to God, so that people may see our good works and give praise to God who inspires us and has established us as his servants. Our lives should be lived in such fashion that people who encounter us will recognize us as believers in Jesus Christ and they will want to know the Lord in whom we believe and have entrusted our hearts to, so that they too may follow our good example.

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