The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 5, 2017
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B.

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In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us who we are: “You are the salt of the earth” and “You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:13–14).

Salt gives food taste. It is so sad when the doctor says: “No salt!” Food without salt tastes like nothing. It is so boring!

Light gives color. Without light, we cannot live. We all know that. We only do not know if Pepco knows!

Jesus says that we are salt and light, in order to give taste to the world and enlighten it.

Last Wednesday, I went to the annual Deanery Meeting with our archbishop. There we talked about New Evangelization. The cardinal told us that we have the same challenge as during the time when the Church was beginning. We have to find a new way of proposing Christianity to this world.

It would be unthinkable if the Super Bowl were played without spectators in the stadium and nobody was in front of the TV at home. What would be the sense of a touchdown if there were no one to celebrate it? The game is played because there are people watching! The Super Bowl exists because there is a stadium full of people and a country that stopped to watch the game!

The game that we are all invited to play must be played before everyone. We do not live unto ourselves but unto the world. The Church and every individual Christian have the world for our horizon. We are called to accomplish a mission in the world. We are all invited to serve and love this world.

However, we are in a secularized and paganized world where most people live as if God did not exist. The prevailing mentality rejects the taste and color that Jesus brought to us. Sometimes salt and light not only give flavor and color but can also cause burning in wounds and eyes. That is why the message proclaimed by the Church is rejected and Christians are persecuted, or at least ridiculed, as Benedict XVI declared in London last September: “In our own time, the price to be paid for fidelity to the Gospel is no longer being hanged, drawn and quartered but it often involves being dismissed out of hand, ridiculed or parodied. And yet, the Church cannot withdraw from the task of proclaiming Christ and his Gospel as saving truth, the source of our ultimate happiness as individuals and as the foundation of a just and humane society” (Prayer Vigil, March 18, 2010).

Sometimes the Christian message is not pleasant. When this happens, we experience temptation. We could try to be pleasing to the world, to remove the taste of the salt and put the lamp under a bushel basket. However, if we proceed this way, Jesus said that we are no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Tremendous words!

We are called to do as Saint Paul proclaimed in the second reading: “I have announced to you the mystery of Christ crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). In addition, like the Apostle, we come into this world “in weakness and fear and much trembling” (1 Cor 2:3) but with courage because what we have to proclaim is not human wisdom but something we have received from God.

However, to enlighten and give taste to the world, we need to be enlightened and “to taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8).” As a famous theologian said: “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all” (K. Rahner). A mystic is not someone outside of reality but someone who experiences God in this world.

“You are the salt of the earth […] You are the light of the world.”

The mission that Jesus entrusts to us is great and beautiful: we are called to give taste and color to our world!

We ask the Holy Spirit to help us be faithful to the mission entrusted to us.  Amen.

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