The Gospel according to Matthew (5:13-16)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”
Opening Prayer: Jesus, help me to be Your light in the world. Help me to shine that light, even when it is difficult, and to know that by shining, I am sharing Your love just a little bit each day. Thank You for letting me be a vessel of Your light! Amen.
When I was a boy, each summer, I attended a Christian summer camp in a place called Redwood Christian Park. It was a wonderful place among the redwood trees. It was so easy to see the power and majesty of God there in one of the most beautiful parts of His creation. One summer, I remember hearing one of the leaders there speak about the passage we read in today’s Gospel. The part about being a “city set on a mountain” always struck me, and even to this day, tugs at my heart to think of it.
The one very practical thing that youth leader told me, all those years ago, was that our lives as followers of Jesus are meant to be seen. They are meant to shed light into the world. Yes, it was true that our relationship with Jesus was very important indeed, but our calling to be His follower, His disciple, was to go beyond just that one-on-one relationship. It took me a long time to truly begin to understand that fact. Thinking now about it, I know that I have barely scraped the surface of that awesome calling.
It really goes against my personality, you know, to be seen like a city on a hill. I’m an introvert and a middle child. Those of you for whom those two adjectives don’t apply may not appreciate it, but that combination is the perfect storm of desiring to “fly under the radar” and not attract attention. It’s a combination that I have struggled with for my whole adult life, since I can’t really do that, generally, and I definitely can’t do it in my faith life.
How, then, can we do it? Truly, we can’t do it with our own abilities. We can try, but I firmly believe that we can’t do it regularly without the whispers of the Holy Spirit into our hearts, assuring us that no matter what comes, that Spirit is there to strengthen us and to remind us of how loved we are. It does still take our own action to demonstrate Jesus’ love, and that same Spirit is what gives us the ability to do it, despite what we see in the world, or how that love is received.
Just like Jesus called His first disciples, and how He told them of the Beatitudes (the part of Matthew’s Gospel that immediately precedes today’s passage), He didn’t tell them to do what He Himself could or would not do. No. He demonstrated a life of love, service, charity, and mercy. His words to each of us are just to emulate that example. “Be an extension of the same love that you have witnessed from Me.” And that process isn’t in the big events of life. No, it is in the ‘ordinary’, and as we continue on our journey in Ordinary Time, it is in the small actions each day that we are the extension of that love, and are the brightly lit city, set on the top of a mountain.
Would that we would see ourselves as Jesus sees us! To Him, each of us are a precious gift. All Jesus wants from us is to help others see themselves to be as precious. Open your eyes today and see the light that you can shine. Let it shine, and let it help to lead someone else to see that they too are precious, and that they have light that they can shine as well.
Closing Prayer: Lord, help me today to love more like You do. Thank You for loving me, and for sharing Your mission with me. Let me do what I can, with Your grace, to share Your love and to help even one other person to know that they too are beloved and blessed. Let me do this with the way I live my life today and every day. Amen.
Action for the Day: Think today of one way that you can “shine your light” before others, so that they may see God’s goodness in you, and be drawn closer in relationship with Jesus.