Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Sacred Scriptures the reminder that all of us as Christians, that is as God’s disciples and followers, all of us must follow His path and do His will, and each one of us have been gathered and called from this world, in order to give testimony of our faith to the people all around us, not just through words only but also through actions and works. If we have not truly and sincerely believed in the Lord, in doing what the Lord has commanded us to do, then we have not lived our lives well as Christians, as how we are supposed to live as God’s servants and disciples. All of us have to be active and committed in our every living moments, so that in everything we say and do, in our every interactions, we are proclaiming God, His love, truth and Good News always.
In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, as the Apostle reminded the faithful community in Corinth how God has always been faithful to the Covenant and to the promises which He has made and renewed with us and our ancestors, again and again. Therefore, all of us should also be committed to the same Covenant which God has made with us, and to embrace Him thoroughly and wholeheartedly, not ignoring the responsibilities that we have in doing God’s will and in obeying His Law and commandments. God Himself had done everything for our sake, not sparing even His own Son, Whom He sent into our midst, so that by dwelling among us, we may see this perfect manifestation of God’s Love and promises in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.
If God has done so much for us, to the extent of bearing His Cross and suffer the worst of persecutions and humiliations for our sake, then naturally, it is only right that all of us should then commit ourselves in a similar way, in following Him and in walking down the path that He has shown all of us. Each one of us as Christians have to be active in living our lives and we have to be sincere and true in our Christian living and way of life, for as we later then heard in our Gospel passage today, that we are all truly the ‘light of the world’ and ‘salt of the earth’. And because of these qualities and comparisons, the Lord wanted us all to know that we have to live up to our faith in Him and not merely paying lip service and keeping appearances only for others to see our faith like how some of our predecessors had done, for which the Lord reprimanded them, like those of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.
In order to understand better the meaning and significance of our Gospel passage today we should understand the importance of light and salt in our world, and especially more so back then during the time of the Lord Jesus. These two commodities were truly important and precious for the people back then as without them, much of the people’s livelihood cannot go on and no one can carry out their lives if they were lacking in light and salt. First of all, light is needed for the people to see clearly and do their various activities, and back then when there was no electricity and artificial electric light sources, light was an especially crucial and important commodity needed by many people in order for all of them to be able to perform work or any activities and actions at all. Hence, when the Lord referred to His disciples and exhorting them to be the ‘light of the world’, and not to hide their brightness, it is a reference to the expectation how all of us as Christians, we have to be committed to God in all the things we do, and be good role models for one another.
Similarly, salt was used, and indeed is still used today for the preservation for many types of food items. However, back then, salt was even more important because not only that there was no refrigeration methods easily and commercially available back then, and preserving the food with salt is among one of the few ways to ensure that many food items remained viable beyond their fresh shelf-life. Salt was also used to add flavour to the food, and if salt was not used, the food might end up being bland and unpalatable. That is why, salt was really a very important commodity back then, as it is still so nowadays. When the Lord referred to this and exhorted His disciples to be like the ‘salt of the earth’, He was calling on them to live lives that are virtuous, just and full of faith, so that by their examples and good role modelling, they may truly be the flavours that rejuvenated the faith and spread the Good News to the world.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Scripture readings today clearly conveyed to us the call for us to go forth and be truly faithful in Him in all things, by doing what we can to show what it truly means to be Christians, as God’s faithful ones and as all those whom He has called and chosen, and chose to embrace His Law and commandments. All of us are called and reminded to be the light of the world and salt of the earth so that by our faithful commitment to the Lord and His truth, we may indeed proclaim Him in our world, in our respective various communities and in wherever we have all been sent to, as each and every one of us have the obligation to fulfil in leading more and more people towards the Lord, and we cannot persuade others to do so unless we have embodied our faith in our own way of life and actions.
Today, all of us celebrate the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, the famous saint who is known especially for his intercession on behalf of those who have lost their precious items, and who was also famous for being one of the saints who have been canonised the soonest after his passing, being canonised less than a year after his death, which was a testimony of his great devotion to God and the popularity of his piety and inspiring examples that had touched so many people back then. St. Anthony of Padua was a member of the Franciscan Order and was ordained a priest, and who dedicated his life to missionary work and preaching, spending a lot of time teaching many people throughout his journeys, inspiring many by his deep understanding of the Scriptures, his eloquence and charism, as well as his natural ability to connect to others to whom he had preached to.
Then St. Anthony of Padua continued his ministry in helping with the education of the young generation of Franciscan friars, and which in one occasion led to his association with the discovery of lost things. According to Church tradition and hagiography, St. Anthony of Padua lost his precious psalter, or psalm book, which had been taken by a Franciscan novice who chose to leave the order behind. Through the prayers of St. Anthony of Padua, miraculously not only that the thief-novice was moved to return the stolen psalter to St. Anthony, but the same former novice chose to return to the Franciscan Order and continue his formation. This showed that the Lord is always with His righteous ones and He listened to us all, ever guiding and providing for us, and St. Anthony was listened to by the Lord because he truly has been obedient to Him, and has been the light of the world and the salt of the earth, through his faith, commitment and dedication, which all of us should be inspired to follow as well.
May the Lord continue to inspire and strengthen us, just as He has done so through the life of His faithful servant, St. Anthony of Padua, through his holiness and devotion to God. May all of us also continue to strive to do what we can to be always worthy of God, in doing what God has called us to do, and in committing ourselves in each and every moments for the greater glory of God, to be the light of the world and salt of the earth. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.