Date: Sunday, February 09, 2020
Is Jesus speaking to me? If we are listening attentively to the Sermon on the Mount, we do have a sense that Jesus is personally saying: “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world.” But we must understand that we are personally receiving the Gospel as a community. In English, the personal pronoun “you” is singular and plural. Isaiah, Paul and Jesus are personally speaking to us in community!
500 years before Jesus, the Jewish people are returning home to Jerusalem after a fifty-year forced exile in Babylon. They find their homes, farms, ways of living, city walls and temple in ruins. It is survival of the fittest. Isaiah challenges the refugees to be mindful of the poor and hungry who are having an extremely difficult time dealing with harsh conditions. Speaking God’s Word, Isaiah cautions the returnees if they want to grow and thrive, they need to care about each other. Justice, fairness, honesty and kindness will bring light into the darkness. Selfishness will bring continued suffering.
Paul writes to the Church at Corinth reminding them how he first comes to them proclaiming the mystery of God lacking eloquence and wisdom. In weakness, fear and trembling, Paul preaches Christ crucified. He trusts the community will receive the Gospel through the Spirit and in the power of God.
In the Gospel according to Matthew, when Jesus sees the crowd, he addresses his disciples. He is speaking to those who are following him and to those who happen to be present. That is us. We are the salt of the earth. Salt is a valuable commodity. Salt preserves, flavors, purifies and heals. Cities are built near sources of salt. The uses of salt describe the ministry of Jesus: preserving, flavoring, purifying and healing. Jesus entrusts that ministry, those tasks, to us.
Tuesday is the feast of our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick. People from around the world are drawn to the Grotto to bath in the waters. Like salt, the water is known for healing properties. Mass is celebrated in a church with easy access for the sick and infirm. Volunteers wheel disable persons into place to celebrate the Eucharist. At night there is a procession with candles singing a Marian hymn. Darkness is dispelled by light of candles and pilgrims walking together in hope and in solidarity. They are aglow. We are the light of the world.