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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Salt and Light

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

To be salt and light: is it an impossible task?

Dear brothers and sisters, Fiat!

These Sundays we are reading some passages from the “Sermon on the Mount”: Jesus’ teachings,  which are gathered as to chart the program of His subsequent work. In today’s passage (Mt 5:13-16), Jesus calls his disciples “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” What does it mean? Maybe someone remembered the passage from the prophet Isaiah (58:7- 10), which is proposed again today as the first reading: “Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter when you see the naked, to clothe them, then your light will break forth like the dawn; If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday”. In short, the Prophet says to act in accordance with justice and charity, and Jesus simply meant that.

To be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, is to give flavor, ie a sense, a higher purpose, to the reality that however many people live as demeaning because they suffered because of them or they consider them to be insignificant; it means giving light to the soul of those who are desperate,  of those who are blind or simply asleep, and for this reason they do not see the good which exists around them, or that they can accomplish.

The task that Jesus entrusted to His disciples appears to be great and exciting, but difficult; Indeed, those who have conscience of their limits are tempted to believe that it’s impossible. Here, however, the second reading. The apostle Paul also felt inept to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world; but nevertheless he didn’t refrain from doing what he could do to bear witness concerning the One who sent him. In this regard, he wrote: “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”  (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

It is difficult to present and especially to experience the cross as our ideal of life. So it was also for Luisa, but when we experience the cross, Jesus also gives us light to know it deeply and understand,  even in sorrow, the great treasure of suffering.

One day Luisa wrote what Jesus taught her about the cross just in a really difficult time for her, because of the death of her mother and the sudden illness of her father that after a few days lead to his death.

Jesus explained to Luisa that the cross is a thorny fruit, which is bothering and prickly on the outside, but once the thorns and the cortex are removed, one finds a precious and delicious fruit. But only one who has the patience to bear the bothers of the prickings, can arrive at discovering the secret of the preciousness and flavor of that fruit. And only one who has come to discover this secret, looks at it with love, and goes in search of this fruit with avidity, without caring about the prickings, while all the others look at it with contempt, and despise it.

At those words Luisa was troubled and wanted to Know from Jesus the secret contained in the fruit of the cross. And Jesus said to her that it is the secret of eternal beatitude, because in the fruit of the cross there are many little coins which circulate only to enter into Heaven, and with these little coins the soul is enriched and makes herself blessed for eternity.

The behavior of the apostle seem humanly unwise almost self-defeating. Instead, as  he continues to explain in the letter, in doing so, we  can see that in reality faith does not arise from someone’s speeches: it arises from “God’s power”.

The apostle, missionary, priest, catechist, the mother who teaches prayers to her child, and all those who try to bear witness to the gospel by word and example, “must” be conscious of being weak and must face the task “with fear and trembling”; but this must not prevent them from realizing that they are only a tool in the hands of God: It’s God Alone Who can penetrate into men’s minds and hearts. Therefore, every Christian can be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, not through his own capacities, or any sort of talents, merits and privileges, but because it is God who, in reality, works through him.


don Marco

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