Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Matthew 5:13-16
To be holy is to live united with the One who is holy, not simply to think nice thoughts about Him. Goodness and holiness are the results of love. Goodness and holiness consist in actively loving others as God loves us. One is holy because one lives with, and acts with, the One who is holy, Jesus Christ. It consists in actively living as He lived, in being salt and light for others. Love does not consist merely of nice sentiments. Love is realized in what we do. It’s good to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”
Jesus tells us, "You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world." These are God's words, defining the way we should live, calling us to act with deeds of concern for others. Salt is active and light is active, not passive. Being salt and light for others is essential to being a follower of Christ. Every Christian is called to strive for personal sanctification, but what we need to remember is that in order to be holy, we must be about the task of bringing others to be a part of the One who is holy. Jesus teaches us this. In fact, He commands it.
Living for others and caring for others like Christ, is the clearest expression of love. The Second Vatican Council emphasized the Christian's duty to be apostolic. Baptism and Confirmation confer duties upon us because in Baptism and Confirmation, one is anointed to be a part of the Body of Christ on earth and, like the Apostles, to bring His presence to those around us.
All of us have countless opportunities to be salt and light for others. The very nature of the Christian life consists in doing good things for others in a supernatural spirit, in the life and motivation of Jesus Christ. This is why He told us, “Let your light so to shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
But what if your salt goes flat? How can you restore it? And what if your light is hidden under a bushel? Jesus knows how often we are tempted to be timid; how often we are motivated and controlled by concerns about what others may think of us, how often we are controlled by fear. So often we keep our faith and our religious values hidden. Additionally there are many voices around us telling us to keep our faith in private and away from the public square. They do not want us to "impose our values" on them even by expressing them in public. Faith, they say, is a private matter. What they are attempting to tell us is that people of faith are not supposed to make a difference in our society, that our faith isn't supposed to be recognized in our secularized, multicultural society. In other words, we are allowed freedom of religion in our Sunday worship services but not when it comes to living out our beliefs in public.
Can we then give witness to an evangelical faith in our public lives? YES, I say we can! But it requires that we have the courage to stand out in our crowded public square. Like salt, the flavor we can give to our society must be sharp and noticeable, not so bland and flat that we are hardly noticed at all.
Jesus does not allow us to determine for ourselves what it means to be His followers. He tells us what we must be doing and who we are. Comfortable minimalism is something He will not tolerate. Our faith in Jesus Christ is not simply so that we can save our own skins. Our faith calls us to work with Christ to reveal God's kingdom here on earth for the salvation of our world. Anything less serves only us, not others.