A Light to the World

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”
(Matthew 5:13-16)

Scripture Study

5:13–14 Two illustrations show that disciples must be true to their calling lest they render themselves useless for the kingdom. Being the salt of the earth, they are to season and preserve the world with peace (Mk 9:50) and gracious speech (Col 4:5). Being the light of the world, they are to bear witness to Jesus and his message (Jn 1:9; 8:12). ● Both images have links with the OT. Salt is associated with the covenant of priesthood made with Aaron and his descendants (Num 18:19) as well as the covenant of kingship made with David and his descendants (2 Chron 13:5). Light is associated with the OT vocation of Israel to make the truth and justice of God shine out to all nations (Is 42:6; 49:6).

5:14 a city set on a hill: An allusion to Jerusalem on Mt. Zion. It is a visible sign of the eternal city that awaits the saints in heaven (Gal 4:26; Heb 12:22; Rev 21:2).

5:16 your Father: Earlier chapters make no mention of the Fatherhood of God. In the Sermon on the Mount, however, Jesus calls God “Father” a total of 17 times (chaps. 5–7). ● God’s Fatherhood is the deepest mystery of his identity; from eternity he fathers a divine Son (Jn 1:1), and throughout history he adopts us as his children in Christ (Jn 1:12; Gal 4:4–7).

Scripture Reflection

In the face of the many problems in the world—violence, materialism, poverty, moral relativism—Jesus challenges us to ask, “What can I do to share God’s love in the world?” Christians are called to be light to the world, and the world will be impacted for better or for worse by the way we live our lives. When we as Christians fail to be saints, when we fail to live the beatitudes and be light, the world suffers. But when we imitate Christ’s love, mercy, and generosity, the world will see our good deeds and glorify our heavenly Father.

St. John Chrysostom invites us to ponder what the world would be like if the entire Christian community lived in imitation of Christ: “Assuredly, there would be no heathen, if we Christians took care to be what we ought to be; if we obeyed God’s precepts, if we bore injuries without retaliation, if when cursed we blessed, if we rendered good for evil. For no man is so savage a wild beast that he would not run forthwith to the worship of the true religion, if he saw all Christians acting as I have said.”

– Curtis Mitch

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.