My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
While on vacation with my parents, I’m always amazed that my Dad packs a number of nightlights, and I’m always grateful, even now, as an “older” guy. Where would we be without the light? Physical light is a necessity; our eyes long for it to safely traverse from place to place. In an even more real way, a soul in darkness cannot thrive no matter how bright the sun is, for it is in God that we live and move and have our being.
In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world,” but in today’s passage from the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is saying, “You are the light of the world.” Isn’t this a contradiction? So we have to ask, is Jesus the light or are Jesus’ disciples the light? The answer is yes; it’s both! Of course, the light that we are to let shine in the world only comes through our union with and imitation of Jesus. Apart from Him, we have no life in us… let alone light.
Now here’s the question. What if we fail to remain in union with Him or if we resist imitating Him, what are we then? We’re like that salt that loses its taste… that loses its saltiness. But there’s a twist, and maybe you’ve thought of this before. “Real Salt” doesn’t lose its flavor, it doesn’t become un-salty. In the very same way Jesus is teaching us today that “Real Disciples” don’t lose their flavor; they don’t lose what they are called to do in the world as His disciples.
So, what are we called to do in the world? In union with Him and in imitation of Him, we are to do the Father’s will. In the Old Covenant, prophets like Isaiah are explicit that Israel’s vocation wasn’t simply to be the chosen people of God, as if Israel was chosen and the Gentiles were rejected. No! Israel was chosen by God for the salvation of the world, the firstborn of many sons, to be a light to the world. Jesus is bringing the prophecies and the vocation of Israel to fulfillment. Jesus is revealing today from the mountaintop that we, His disciples and the new Israel, are to be a light to the Gentiles, to the nations, and to the world.
What will draw others and even nations to Christ? Jesus tells us. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” The good works we must do are the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Ours is a sharing in the work, mission and vocation of Christ! The world craves the light!
Catechism Question of the Week: Jesus, while acknowledging the Ten Commandments, also A) unfolded all the demands of the Commandments, B) preached a righteousness which exceeds that of the scribes, Pharisees and gentiles, C) showed the power of the Spirit at work in their letter, or D) all of the above (see CCC 2054)
With family, friends and those you meet, please discuss the following Question of the Week: What does it mean to me when Jesus tells me that my righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees if I am to enter the kingdom of heaven?
In Christ’s Peace,