Our Lord’s invitation to holiness extends to all Christians. As a result, there is an obligation to work for the salvation of our brothers and sisters – by word and by example.
Newsroom (03/02/2023 8:30 PM, Gaudium Press) — The liturgy of this 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time takes part in the famous Sermon on the Mount, a mixture of all the Gospel teachings. Thus, directly contradicting the maxims and customs prevailing in his time, in the eight Beatitudes, the Divine Master preaches: “to the avaricious, poverty, to the proud, humility, to the voluptuous, chastity, to men of leisure and pleasure, toil and tears of penance, to the envious charity, to the vengeful mercy and to the persecuted the joys of martyrdom.” In short, the path to holiness is traced in them, a path that must be trodden by all the faithful. The simple enunciation of the Beatitudes presaged a renewal of the world, the advent of a new civilization, and of liberated humanity.
Something that history hasn’t known. Right after solemnly proclaiming them, Jesus will address himself above all to the Apostles and disciples, using very expressive language to indicate to them the qualities necessary for the fulfillment of his mission. This is done to manifest the obligation of those most called to guide, teach and sanctify the faithful. At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth.” Salt has always been highly appreciated and valued by humanity, as it is a good preservative for food and enhances its flavour.
In the Roman Empire, soldiers were paid with it or an amount of money was also allocated for its acquisition, originating the term. By saying: “You are the salt of the earth”, Our Lord declares that his disciples — that is, all the baptized — must enrich the world by providing a new flavour to human coexistence, avoiding brutality and the corruption of customs. Entrusting us with the mission of being “the light of the world”, Jesus invites us to participate precisely in his own mission. “You are the light of the world.” (Mt 5,14) The same was proclaimed by old Simeon in the Temple, when, taking the Child God in his arms, he prophesied that He would be “a light to give light to the nations”, (Lk 2:32).
Our Lord came to bring the light of the Good News and the model of a holy life. Doctrine illuminates and points the way, while edifying example moves the will to follow it. In this world immersed in chaos and darkness, due to ignorance or contempt for moral principles, the disciples of Jesus must, with the help of grace and good example, enlighten and guide people. This will help them to revive the distinction between good and evil, truth and error, the beautiful and the ugly, pointing to the ultimate end of humanity: the glory of God and the salvation of souls, which will bring about the enjoyment of the beatific vision.
For this to happen, the condition is to be detached and admiring everything in the universe that reflects divine perfections, so that we always try to see the Creator in creatures. Thus, our thoughts and our ways will have a brightness that comes from grace. An expressive figure of this spiritual reality is provided by the incandescent electric lamp. Tungsten is a base element and of little use. However, run through electric current and in an atmosphere in which air has been replaced, it illuminates like no other metal.
Electricity represents divine grace, while the weakness of tungsten well symbolizes our nothingness. The need for a certain vacuum for the incandescence of the filament underscores even more how to reflect the supernatural light. We need to joyfully recognize our emptiness, our little merit, our limitations and shortcomings and not put up any resistance to God’s action. In this way, like tungsten filaments linked to the current of grace, we can be transmitters of true light to the world. Let us not be afraid to practice virtue! “In the same way, let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and praise your Father who is in Heaven.” (Mt 5,16)
Like lamps shining in the dark, Our Lord wants Christians to enlighten men with their good deeds. That is, good needs to be proclaimed without human respect and to the four winds, in a world that is rooted in lust and atheism. When finding themselves in a hostile environment, the good often tend to shrink back, to be intimidated, almost apologizing for not being one of the bad guys… which is absurd! On the contrary, truth and goodness must enjoy full citizenship, wherever it may be. For this reason, we must not be afraid to proclaim our Faith, our vocation, our determination to follow Christ everywhere.
Expressive in this sense is the famous episode in the life of Saint Francis of Assisi when he invited Friar Leão to accompany him to a sermon. The two simply walked through the city, immersed in supernatural recollection and returned to the convent without saying a word. When asked about the preaching, the Saint replied that it was carried out because two men showed themselves in religious habit on the streets, keeping the modesty of the look. It is the apostolate of good example. It’s up to all of us, through words, deeds, or the mere action of presence, to try to salt and illuminate this so insipid and dark land. By Jerome Siqueira
Extracted, with adaptations, from: CLÁ DIAS, João Scognamiglio. The unpublished about the Gospels: comments on the Sunday Gospels. Vatican City-São Paulo: LEV-Instituto Lumen Sapientiæ, 2013, v. 2, p. 56-69.
“https://gaudiumpress.org BERTHE, Augustin. Jesus Christ, his life, his Passion, his triumph. Einsiedeln: Benziger, 1925, p. 144. AFONSO MARIA DE LIGORIO. Priestly dignity and sanctity. The Jungle. Sevilla: Apostolado Mariano, 2000, p. 306.