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We are to reflect the light of Christ to the world and be the salt that seasons it by our words and life
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Sunday, the Fifth Sunday of the Year, February 05, 2023
Isaiah 58:7-10, Psalm 111 (112), 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Matthew 5:13-16


Scripture quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

 

 

Today’s reading presents us with a great challenge. Christ is the light of the world, as he said, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). But today Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world. There is no contradiction here. Christ is the light of the world, and we as his followers reflect his light to others. That is what Jesus expects us as Christians, as disciples, as apostles to do – to bring the light of Christ to others by our words and the example of our life.

 

 

People will hear our words and our doctrine and they will see our way of life and this should bring them light and be like salt to food, bringing out its taste. But if salt loses its taste, it is useless and is thrown out. It is the same with a Christian who loses his taste, who loses the distinctiveness of his faith in Christ and his Christian way of living – he is useless to Christ, for he no longer brings Christ’s light to the world. We are no longer a useful disciple if we cannot preach the gospel by our words in a true and authentic way and if we do not live according to the gospel we preach.

 

 

Therefore our lives should not be a worldly. We should not be like everyone else. We shouldn’t just try to be like other people and not stand out in any way, only doing exactly what everyone else in the world around us is doing. This is not a Christian life. We betray Christ if we do this.

 

 

We Christians have a doctrine of life and salvation that is a light for the world, not just for ourselves. Our lives should be transformed by Christ, and this transformation should be obvious to all who see and know us. They should immediately notice that we are not worldly people; we are not like everybody else, wasting our time in endless entertainments, recreations, and pastimes.

 

 

People should note that we are dedicated to Christ and that our lives are in conformity with the doctrine we preach. If not, we are useless as a preacher; we are a hypocrite, contradicting with our life the words we preach. We are therefore useless to the Church and to Christ.

 

 

This is a great challenge. We are like a city set on a hill, which everyone sees, and it cannot be hidden. Our way of life cannot be hidden. People see how we live and how we spend our time. They should see that our way of living is in conformity with what we preach.

 

 

The doctrine that we have is not just for ourselves, for our own benefit, but we are to be lights to the world, as Jesus says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

 

 

Who goes to the trouble of lighting a lamp and then puts it under a basket or a bed? No one! The whole point of lighting a lamp is to give light to everyone in the room. Our life is a lamp when we believe in Christ and begin to become new men transformed by Christ. This light of our new life is not just for ourselves, for our own benefit, but for everyone who sees and knows us.

 

 

We are to enlighten people not with our own light, but with the light of Christ. We should be lights to the world. Therefore “do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life” (Philippians 2:14-16).

 

 

Christ came to redeem us, to save us from our sins, to save us from out of the world, to make us a new people, new men, a new creation and new creatures in Christ. He justified us and reckoned to us his own righteousness, because of Christ’s death on the cross in vicarious, substitutionary punishment for our sins. All who put their faith in Christ have their sins punished for them in his death on the cross, and God therefore sees us as righteous, and furthermore reckons to us his own righteousness so that we shine with the righteousness of God himself and become lights in the world.

 

 

This is the ideal that we are to live. We are always learning, always trying to improve. Sometimes people misjudge us or our actions, but we are to always turn in faith and repentance to Christ and his saving death on the cross for our salvation and redemption. Christ expects that once we are justified by our faith, we will grow in holiness by our life and good works. We are to live a new life, worthy of the calling that God has given us, a life of good works that shine the light of Christ upon the world.

 

 

“There must be something marked, distinct, and peculiar about our character, if we are true Christians. It will never do to idle through life, thinking and living like others, if we mean to be owned by Christ as His people. Have we grace? Then it must be seen. Have we the Spirit? Then there must be fruit. Have we any saving religion? Then there must be a difference of habits, tastes, and turn of mind, between us and those who think only of the world” (JC Ryle, 1816-1900, emphasis in the text).

 

 

We must be singular in the sense of being unlike the world. “It is perfectly clear that true Christianity is something more than being baptized and going to church. ‘Salt’ and ’light’ evidently imply peculiarity both of heart and life, of faith and practice. We must dare to be singular and unlike the world, if we mean to be saved” (JC Ryle, emphasis in the text).

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