Scripture: Matthew 5:11-16
Key verse: (14) “You are the light of the world.”
Reflection: Today’s reading begins with the end of the Beatitudes. People remember “Blessed are the poor in spirit … blessed are those who mourn … blessed are the peacemakers.” We don’t often remember, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” When you’re being insulted or persecuted or lied about because of your Christian witness, that does not feel good. Yet Jesus says we’re blessed when that happens.
He goes on to tell the church that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Scores of thoughts have been offered about the meaning of these metaphors. What strikes me about them is that Jesus is clear in saying the church exists for the sake of the world, not the other way around. The world does not exist to provide members for the church. Rather the church exists for the sake of the world; to offer salt to preserve and flavor and purify; to offer light to warm and comfort and enable us to see. This is who we are.
Sometimes the world doesn’t want any salt. Sometimes the world prefers to remain bland, or refuses the purifying agents we need. Sometimes we’d rather stay in the dark than have our lives illumined by the radical call of Jesus to love God with all we are and love our neighbors as ourselves. Sometimes when we apply the gospel to the situations of the world, it causes trouble. Sometimes it makes people uncomfortable. And sometimes it leads people to insult and persecute and lie about you. Jesus says when that happens, we’re blessed.
Sometimes I don’t want to deal with that. Sometimes I want to go along to get along. Sometimes I prefer a low light environment—it’s easier on my eyes. Yet what’s the consequence of that? Ultimately the world will suffer because of our lack of witness. The world won’t taste the salt it needs. The world will continue to live in the dark. Jesus doesn’t say, “You should be like the light of the world.” He says, “You ARE the light of the world.” We’re it. If we don’t shine, how will people see? “Let your light so shine,” says our Lord.
Prayer: This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, Lord. Even if the light hurts my eyes. Even if it compels me to see what I’d rather not see. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].