Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 9, 2014 Cycle A
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.B.

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In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that his disciples are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. With these two images, he describes what we are and what our mission is.

Salt gives food taste. It exalts flavors. Salt prevents decay. It heals wounds.

Light reveals the color and form of our surroundings. Light conquers our fear of the unknown.

 We can be the salt and light of the world if we are united to Christ, like branches to a vine. The light we bring to the world does not come from us. We receive it from our dialogue with God, like Moses whose face became radiant after his dialogue with God inside the tent. Moses did not see the light himself but it dazzled all who saw him.

In order to be the salt and light of the world, we need to “taste and see that the LORD is good.” We need to taste His goodness. We need to experience Christ as the answer to the deepest questions of our hearts. He gives happiness and fulfillment to our lives. We need to taste the salt. In the old rite of baptism, the priest used to put some grains of salt in the baby’s mouth, signifying that to be a Christian means to taste the goodness of the Lord, to taste his love for us. However, we need to do more than just taste. We need to let light conquer the dark shadows within ourselves.

We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  We have a mission. Jesus invites us to bear witness. The grace we have received must be communicated. The world needs salt and light. Our world has almost everything but one thing is missing: the taste of life. There is an emptiness in people’s lives, enormous loneliness. People were shocked when a famous actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, died of a heroin overdose last week. He seemed to have had everything.

People sometimes try to avoid the emptiness and loneliness of their lives with addictions that give them the illusion of fulfillment. The current individualistic ideology is driving our society toward a dead end. When God is no longer at the center of our lives, everything is possible. We live in a time that centers everything on the individual, when to be free means to choose whatever we want to be or to do. Without God at the center, there is no limit to our rights and choices. Might makes right is the law of the jungle.

The Belgian Parliament is about to approve a law that permits the euthanasia of children. People in Canada are saying that they want to do the same. Such laws are purported to be all about compassion toward the suffering. Something is rotten! There are many signs of decay in our civilization. 

We live in a culture that has lost the practical sense of God. Of course, we still have many religious people but their attitudes are often at odds with their beliefs. The secular culture of our times does not accept God as the Creator.

Salt and light! Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Let us ask for the grace neither to lose the taste of salt nor hide our light under a bushel basket. Let us ask for the courage to bear witness to the taste of life that comes from our faith.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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