Sunday, 9 February 2020 : Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday all of us heard the message from the Sacred Scripture, in which the core message is that of each and every one of us as disciples and followers of the Lord must be ready to do what He has taught and commanded us to do. If we call ourselves as Christians and yet we are incapable, unwilling or fail to do what we have been called to do, how can we be Christians then? Are we not like the hypocrites who believe in one thing and yet act in a different manner?

In our Gospel passage today we heard from the Lord Jesus His famous parable of the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He was using them as a tool of comparison with all of those whom He had called and taught, reminding them of all the blessings and talents that God has given to each and every one of them, and thus all of us too. All of us have been blessed with wonderful talents and abilities unique to our own, but many of us have not realised this and many of us are not using those talents and abilities for the right purpose or simply misused them.

Today, let us all first look into the two things which the Lord used to represent His teachings and thoughts. The first one is salt, an essential flavouring agent and also a preservative used from many millennia ago in many cultures and civilisations around the world. And the second one is light, something that is naturally available to us through the sun and the distant stars and its reflections from the moon. And we also have artificial forms of light source, historically using candle flames and then later on electricity-powered lighting.

In our world today we may not fully understand the significance of these two very important commodities and why the Lord chose them to represent what He wanted to deliver to the people listening to Him. And that is because we live in a world where salt and light, as well as many other things that used to be very difficult to be gained or maintained, are now abundant and plenty. Salt and light are so plenty all around us that we often do not appreciate their significance to our lives.

Salt was very important as mentioned earlier, as a flavouring for food that would otherwise be bland and tasteless. And even more importantly, salt is usually the most common form of preservation of food, by using it to kill the microorganisms present in the food and also to slow down the growth of any other microorganism by dehydrating the food due to its properties. Salt are readily available from the seas and oceans, as there are plenty of saltwater in our world, making up the vast majority of the water we have.

However, because salt is so important and necessary for many uses in life, its production, which is time and labour consuming using the traditional method of evaporating seawater, salt has always been prized and treasured by many people, especially by those who live far away from the shores of the sea. As transportation systems in the past were not as advanced as it is now, it may be difficult for many people to have a steady and sufficient access to salt.

If salt no longer has its saltiness and presumably, its useful properties, then it really becomes useless as the Lord Himself said. Without its properties, salt is useless and meaningless, and has no value at all other than to be discarded, ignored and thrown away. And by using this, God wants His people to understand that our talents and abilities that He has given us are just like the saltiness and the preservative properties of salt.

And then, on the matter of light, light is also a very important commodity for us all, as we all know that without light, we cannot see any objects around us. Our vision of the objects and our surroundings can happen because light is reflected on the object’s surface and gets into our eyes. Without light, there will then be darkness, for darkness is indeed the absence of light. With light, darkness disappears and everything become bright and visible again.

Similar with salt, we live in a world where light is so abundant and available at any time of the day that we may no longer appreciate its significance. But in the ages past, especially before the discovery of electricity and the use of electricity in providing light sources for us, people feared the dark very much as they could not see, and harm could easily occur to those who were exposed in the open, such as wild beasts and predators, and other harms like obstacles and dangers lurking all around not visible to man because of the lack of light.

During the period when light was absent such as during nighttime, candles were used, and they were so precious that if we notice, traditional candlesticks where the candles were usually placed have a flared surface that was meant to capture all the melted wax during the burn. While not all the substance of the candle can be reclaimed this way, but with that, as much melted wax as possible could be reclaimed and then reused again for either lighting or other purposes.

And we all also know that light also produces heat, and in a world where nighttime can be cold and dark, especially during winter times, light was indeed very, very important as not just a source of hope but also a source of comfort and protection. And this is why the Lord make use of light as His example, and mentioned how useless and illogical it would be for anyone to hide a light source underneath a cover that the light could not be used to enlighten the darkened places.

Such an attitude would not make sense at all considering just how precious light as a resource was, especially at the time when Jesus conducted His ministry two millennia ago, way long before electricity and any forms of readily accessible lighting were available to us mankind. In the same way as how salt was described therefore, light was used as an important comparison of how God has given us talents, abilities and gifts, and blessed us with the opportunities to be used, and we should make use of them for the greater glory of God.

But more often than not, we do not or fail to recognise these gifts and blessings from God. Or we misuse them for our own selfish desires and benefits rather than using them as how God had intended for them to be used. We seek personal happiness and pleasure, and we want to satisfy our various inner desires. This is where we are all reminded that if we do all these, essentially we are doing what the Lord had said about being senseless, by hiding the light that God has placed within us and by losing that saltiness of ours as the salt of the earth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all the light of the world and the salt of the earth because we have in us the light of God, Who is the True Light of the world. We reflect His light and glory and become beacons of His light in our darkened world today. He has also given us the gifts to bless others with our distinct personalities and talents, like salt that gives flavour to the food that we eat. And if we act in ways contrary to what the Lord had taught and shown us, we are hiding this light and not making use of what God has bestowed on us.

How do we then live our lives so that we may truly reflect God’s light and become bright beacons of His light and be true and meaningful salt of the earth? It is by heeding what we have heard in our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah. The prophet mentioned how we all should share our joy, happiness and blessings with others, to live humbly and without excess that we may spare our joy with others who need help. We ought to reach out to the needy, those who are homeless and have none to care for them.

Essentially, we are all called to be selfless and to be willing to love one another sincerely, and we are called to live a genuine and virtuous Christian life each, so that by our lives and actions, the light of Christ will shine forth through us as the prophet Isaiah said, and be the guiding light for others who are still in the darkness of the world. Are we able to make the commitment to live our lives in an utmost Christian manner from now on?

It will not be easy for us to do so, as temptations are always aplenty trying to make us to live our lives for ourselves instead, causing harm and even hurt to others when we seek to satisfy our own selfish desires and demands. And if we do this, we are hiding the light of Christ and making ourselves useless as the salt of the earth. Our challenge is how do we keep our courage and strength to walk down the path that God has shown us, to bear witness to His truth and to share our joy in Christ with all those whom we encounter in life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let our lives be examples and demonstration of God’s love, and let our every words, actions and deeds speak of the glory of God, putting Him first and foremost above our own petty desires. Let us all reach out to our fellow brethren and show God’s love, and do our best within our own capacity, utilising our own talents and capabilities to touch others through our sincere and genuine show of love, care and concern, that we may bring light to illuminate the path of others who are still enshrouded by the darkness of uncertainty and sin, and bring happiness and joy to the life of others.

Let us all truly be light of the world and salt of the earth as our Lord Himself has called us to be, and let us dedicate ourselves, our time, energy and effort to serve Him ever more faithfully from now on. May the Lord bless us all and may He strengthen each and every one of us that we may always be faithful to carry out the missions which He has entrusted to us. May God bless us all and our many good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.