Homily – 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)
This homily was adapted from a homily written by Father Albert Lakra
I believe that most of us are aware that our culture has become somewhat darker in regard to immorality and anti-Christian behavior, but we must not close our eyes to the good that has come from the growing darkness. It is in the darkness that light can shine the brightest, and in today’s readings, Christ has a powerful message for us. He speaks to us and gives us direction on how we are to live our lives, especially in times of darkness. He states: “YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH; YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.”
Let me share with you a short story that might help us understand what Christ was trying to teach us. An ancient king once asked his three daughters how much they loved him. The eldest daughter said she loved him more than all the gold in the world. The middle daughter said she loved him more than all the silver in the world. And the youngest daughter said she loved him more than salt. The king was not pleased with the final answer. However, the wise cook overheard the conversation, and the next day he prepared a wonderful meal for the king but left out the salt. The food was so insipid, so tasteless, that the king couldn’t eat it. It was then that the King understood what his youngest daughter meant. He now understood the value of salt.
Salt is a basic and essential item in our diet and the greatest and the most obvious quality of salt is that it lends flavor to food. Food without salt is sadly insipid, bland, and can even be a sickening thing. Salt is so important that one can’t even imagine living without it. In times of past, Salt was connected with purity, for it came from purest of all things visible, the sun and the sea. Salt was also the commonest of all preservatives. It was used to keep things from going bad and preserved things from getting corrupted. Salt was considered so important, that even the Jews added salt to their offerings to God. So, when Christ said to his followers – “You are the salt of the earth,” it simply meant that a follower of Christ must lend flavor to life, bringing joy & gladness, happiness & peace, justice & love, care & concern, hope & consolation, among those in their lives.
A follower of Christ, a Christian, also has to be an example of purity, in speech, in conduct, and even in thought, living a life of honesty, diligence & conscientiousness. The Christian also has to preserve the good and prevent the evil in the society, and save it from deteriorating. By our very presence, we are to defeat corruption of all kinds. So When Christ used this image of salt, He was trying to teach us how a disciple of His should act and live in the world. But He also warned us by describing that just as insipid salt, salt that has lost its taste, its strength, is of no use in flavoring or preserving food, so too, the so-called 'disciples' are of no use if they choose to fail, especially by a lack of effort, or in a life content with being Luke-Warm in the faith. The corruption of the best is the worst. Those called to be the greatest, Christians, constitute the worst tragedy if they choose to fail, especially after being shown the way, the truth, and the life.
Christ goes on to say to His disciples: “You are the light of the world.” He speaks of our visibility in the world. Let me share with you another short story that may help us better understand Christ’s words. The story is told of a little girl who was shivering her way along a main street in one of our great cities. Seeing the beautiful lights of a church building and hearing the music coming from within, she went in and warmed herself as she listened. In the Priest’s homily, he focused on and stated, "I am the light of the world." At the close of the Mass, the little girl went to the Priest and said, "Did you say you are the light of the world, sir?" The Priest replied, "No, dear child. Christ is the light of the world; I am only one of the smaller lights." The little girl looked at him for a moment, paused, and then solemnly said, "Well, sir, I wish you would come down and hang out in our alley, 'cause it's awful dark down there!" Christians are indeed, as Christ said, "The light of the world." And as one of those lights, let us ask ourselves: Do we ever purposely go to any dark places, to shine our light? Or do only “Hang out” with other lights? Or do we hide our Light?
It is important for us to remember that a light, especially a light of Christ is something which is meant to be seen and not hidden. And in reality, there really is no such thing as a secret Christian disciple, because the secrecy will ultimately betray the discipleship or the discipleship will ultimately destroy the secrecy. Thus a disciple of Christ must be visible in the world, and our light is meant to be a guide by shedding its rays and showing the way, especially in the darkness. Our light also often sends a warning, a warning when there is a danger lying ahead. We are to be an example to others and to positively influence them; while at the same time lovingly giving them warnings of the dangers of the evil in the world.
This idea of being visible to the world was so important to Christ that He used two more images to emphasize it. He spoke of a 'city set on a mountain,' and how it sticks out like a sore thumb, and that there is no way to hide it. And he spoke of a 'lamp on a lamp-stand.' And declared, “What is the point in lighting a lamp then covering it up? Clarifying that we are either a light to others, or we block the light.
We must remember one powerful thing; to truly follow Christ is always radical. And we must honestly decide! Do I want follow Christ, or do I want to follow the world? The two are in direct contrast, and we can’t do both. If we try, we will do neither well, and we will become insignificant. Let us not become insignificant. Let us become true followers of Christ. In doing so, we don’t need any special talents or abilities, just as St. Paul says in the Second Reading, proclaiming to know nothing but “Jesus Christ, and Christ crucified.” Simply, we are to be, “The Salt of the earth,” and “The Light of the world,” and that through our lives – in action & speech, with our work & words, through our behavior, while fully trusting not in human wisdom, but in the power of God, that we can truly be that reflection of Christ’s light, that light that clearly shines, that light that shines especially bright today in our world’s darkness.