Homily 5th Sunday Ordinary Time – 5th February 2023
In this Gospel reading, Christ us pictured as giving his disciples the first in a series of instruction. In language that is clear and simple and direct, he tells them just what they are to do, how they are to act.
And Christ begins these instructions by setting up for his disciples two images: The image of salt and the image of light.
Salt preserves. It maintains health and strength. But even more than that, it enhances. It makes things better. It brings out the true flavour, the true goodness of whatever it seasons.
And light. A lamp does no good for anyone if you light it and then cover it up with something. In fact a lamp really isn’t a light at all if it isn’t out in the open where people can see it and benefit from that fact that it shows the way.
Today it is we who are the disciples, to whom Christ gives these instructions. It is we who take these images to heart and be for the world salt and light. We must season one another, bring out the goodness in one another.
In any relationship in any setting, at work, at school, at home, or just out and about, our role is the same…to preserve, to strengthen, to encourage goodness, to enlighten, to dispel darkness and shadows. That is what salt and light do. And we are to be the salt and light of the earth.
To the world, ours can seem a religion of extremes. Extreme enough to believe that God became human and that in us there is now to be found divine goodness. Extreme enough to insist that simple, weak human beings can indeed love their enemies, do good to those who hurt them, to insist that human beings can indeed live as they have been created in the image and likeness of God, and that to do so is a value greater than any other imaginable, greater than wealth, power, fame, popularity, comfort, anything.
Well, how do we do that? We can never hope to rationally convince anyone of the rightness of our way of life. We can only show them. And in the last line of the Gospel, He explains what that must mean. Stand out before the people, so that everyone can see goodness in your acts.
So, the message then, is simply that. We season creation and we light the way to goodness by living out that goodness. The extent to which we centre our lives around values, around what is right, and how to act on that, simply because it is right, quite apart from whether or not it is comfortable, fun, profitable or popular, to that extent we will truly be the salt of the earth. We will season those whom we touch, and we will invite others to respond in the same way, with the goodness that is in them.