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2/9/2020 Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Reggie

Jesus chose his words carefully - including the words we just listened to.

They are part of his famous Sermon on the Mount, which is like a highlight film of all his sermons. In this section, he is explaining to his followers what he expects of them. It is like a coach talking to his players before the big game - but this is Jesus talking to us about the game of life itself. It is like a general instructing his troops before a big battle - but this is Jesus talking to us about the battle of life. He is giving us our life-mission.

And what is that life-mission?

To be salt and light for the world around us. Salt had two functions in the ancient world: it gave flavor to food, and it also preserved food. They didn't have refrigerators back then, so they would preserve meat by putting a thin layer of salt over it. Light had the same function then as it does now: to push back the darkness. But in the ancient world, before the advent of electricity, darkness was a much more dramatic reality than it is to us. The ancients understood how helpless they were without a lamp. We, on the other hand, because electric lighting is everywhere, rarely even have to think about our need for light.

Salt and light - these are the comparisons Jesus uses to explain our life-mission.

And what is the common characteristic of salt and light? They are both for something else. Their purpose is not self-centered, but other-centered. And that's the point.

A Christian's mission in the world, just like Christ's mission, is to make a positive difference for others, by bringing them the power and the illumination of the gospel.

Flavorless Christianity is like putting sand on your french fries: something is different about the taste, but it’s not something good. Salt is a staple in many recipes, in many cultures, and it is not easily replaced. Neither pepper nor chili powder, for example, would have the same effect. People want salt to add flavor. Christianity is meant to make a unique contribution to society and culture, even for those who do not believe in Christ. For believers, like that salt shaker on the dinner table, it is indispensable and we can accept no substitutes. Salt subtly contributes to many recipes and is only appreciated at times when its absence is noted. It’s meant to blend in and contribute, and we have to make sure it receives the credit it is due. A world without Christianity is like a world without salt, flavorless and prone to spoiling.

Flavorless Christianity is like putting sand on your french fries: something is different about the taste, and it’s not something good. Some people have already written off Christianity as sand on the fries, as something that robs life of its flavor, but those people have either never experienced it or have only met the flavorless variety of Christian that Jesus is warning against today. Christianity, like salt, is not meant to be just any flavor.In recipes you sometimes see the instruction, “season to taste”: you check as you’re cooking to see whether the taste is right. Too little and the recipe is flavorless or off. Sometimes we have to take stock of whether our Christianity has diminished so much that it no longer “seasons” our life. There are many ways to season your Christianity to taste. Are you praying daily? Do you read and meditate on Scripture? Do you help people expecting nothing in return? Do you try to learn a little more about your faith and share it? Let’s pray today for the flavorless Christians to put some “spice” back into their Christian life, and also for all those Christians trying to be the light of world while being treated like sand in the fries.

 

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