A person I know says “I’m a non-believer, I don’t harm anyone, that’s enough”. But we’re here not just to avoid harm, but to do as much good as we can. We’re to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, our Gospel says. Lets confess ways we fail Christ, not just by sin but also by not doing the good we can.
In the Bond film “Quantum of Solace”, the hero seeks peace within himself. Though Bond is light years away from Christian life, inner peace is also our objective. The word used for this in the Bible is “shalom” which is more than absence of war. Its means inner completeness, health and integrity, the state of one who lives in harmony with himself, his neighbor, nature and God. That’s what we’re called to by Christ, to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, to inspire those around us.
But that’s hard work, and we are frail, so we need God’s grace in Christ to help us. Without that grace we’re lost, because as Paul says there’s another law in us, that of the flesh, the law of the unredeemed, the law of Satanic darkness that threatens the soul. Our task, by God’s help and church’s sacraments, is to free ourselves and others from our soul-destroying inner darkness.
That’s what Christ means when he says we must be the salt of the earth and light of the world. We must live uprightly, pure in motive and act, helping the oppressed, knowing our need of God, active for universal goodness and peace. All this of course is the opposite of the corrupt world, which inevitably hits back. That’s why the image of the just man who suffers as result of his goodness fills the scriptures. He is one who persists in Godly ways despite attack and persecution from the corrupt and envious world. The ultimate example of this Suffering servant of God who though persecuted redeems the world, is Christ, our model and inspiration who is with us when we’re attacked for doing what’s right. He takes our part and give us the victory in the long run in the great struggle of good and evil.
That’s why the saints were joyful in facing persecution and evil misrepresentation. Ultimately they did what’s right for Christ, to bring ourselves and others into his Kingdom of light, love, peace and graceful living here and eternal life hereafter. Suffering for right is worth it for we don’t work for passing fame and wealth but for the recreation of the world in God’s image, the kingdom of God in Christ.
All that is summed up in today’s gospel. The believer is to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Lost in darkness, narrow self-interest, cruelty, war, injustice and godless pride the world needs our lamps to guide it out of the morass where it lies trapped by Satan. We’re to be Christ’s redeeming light powered by inner batteries of faith and good works. There must be an active outgoing as well as inner dimension to our faith. One understands why Luther worried about this gospel; “let your light shine before men, that seeing your good works, they may give glory to your Father in heaven”. Its Matthew’s response to the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. In Christ, one is first transformed within and then transforms the world by radical goodness in action: “let your light so shine before men that seeing your good works they may give glory to your Father in heaven”. Ultimately God’s glory and the world’s redemption is the end of all our striving for right. For the corrupt values of this world pass away but Christ is lord of light, life, goodness, love truth and peace for this world and forever and ever, amen. So as God’s own safe in his light and spreading it to others by word and action, we profess our faith.
Prayers of the faithful
and As the people of God, living in the light of Christ, we pray confidently for what we need to be his proud witnesses..
For church leaders, especially our Holy Father and all the pastors of the church, that they may be a real beacons for Christ to our world, drawing all people to the saving light of God..
For civil leaders that they too may bring God’s light to the world by just laws and allowing the faith to flower in the land..
For ourselves, may we be the salt of the earth and the light of the world at homes, at work and everywhere, radiating God’s grace by word, good works and faith, especially to our children..
For our wonderful bright young people that they may never abandon the light of faith or drift back into the meaningless darkness and hopelessness which he suffered so much to deliver us from…
For the sick, the lonely the aged and the oppressed that by our good works on their behalf they may know the infinite love and comfort of their caring Lord…
For the dead that they may come fully into the light of Christ in heaven, if they have not already done so, by our prayers which are a true good work on their behalf..
and we ask all these our prayers through the same Christ our Lord who is forever the light of the world amen
St.James says good works must underpin faith. He points out that is useless saying to a person in need, stay fed, warm or housed if we do nothing to help. Our words are empty, our faith just posturing. Christ himself says: “Let your light shine before men that seeing your good works they may give glory to your Father in heaven”. Even Lutherans now agree, signing a joint document with Catholics recently that Christianity means “faith lived in love”. We pray to Mary to help us live our faith in works of active charity, so that we’ll be Christ’s disciples and turn the world into the just Kingdom He desires.. Hail Mary