05 February 2011

'You are the salt of the earth'. Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A, 6 February 2011

'A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden'
A View of Toledo, El Greco, painted 1597-99

Readings (New American Bible, used in the Philippines and the USA)

Gospel (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.”


The term ‘salt of the earth’ is widely used in English to describe a person in whom goodness is apparent and whose Catholic faith is there for all to see, very often without the person being aware of this. Í think of Rose, who was an assistant in a small grocery store where I lived in Dublin. Rose, who never married, treated each customer with respect and a warm welcome.

During vacations at home in Dublin I would see Rose at daily Mass and occasionally we would chat afterwards. It was apparent that she listened carefully to the word of God and found short homilies on weekdays helpful. Her faith, nourished by the Word and Bread of life, is at the heart of her life.

George Weigel, a biographer of Pope John Paul II, concluded a recent article on the pope with these words: The Church doesn’t make saints; God makes saints, and the Church recognizes the saints that God has made. John Paul II was convinced that God was profligate in his saint-making—that there are examples of sanctity all around us, if we only know how to look for them and see them for what they are. His blessedness consisted in no small part of showing us the blessedness of others.

There are indeed many Roses all around us, among them the late 'Mommy Paz Torres' of Bacolod City.

Mommy Paz Torres, far right

How to Be Salt and Light in the World Today

Biblical Reflection for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time A

By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB

TORONTO, JAN. 25, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Jesus of Nazareth was a master teacher and a great storyteller. I can easily picture him teaching and preaching to his young friends as they sat on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, on hillsides, in deserted places or in the temple precincts in Jerusalem. He incorporated everything around him in his teaching and preaching and he models for us a tremendous artistry of the human condition and of God's created world.

These qualities of Jesus are clearly evident in today's Gospel -- the continuation of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew's Gospel (5:13-16). In order to explain the rich meaning of today's Gospel passage, I would like to draw from two personal experiences that brought them to life for me -- one from my years of study in the Holy Land and the second from an earlier experience studying art history in France.

Understanding salt of the earth

Father Rosica goes on to explain the importance salt still plays in the lives of people in the Holy Land.

Color and light

In addition to being salt for the earth, Jesus called his followers to be the light of the world. In the memorable sermon on the Galilean hillside, Jesus transfers his light to those who follow him: "You are the light of the world." Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus calls us to be that same light.

During my summer undergraduate studies in France in the late 1970s, I remember an art history course that took us to the very picturesque medieval town of Moret-sur-Loing in the Départment of Seine-et-Marne, not far from the cities of Paris and Sens. This beautiful little town was a source of inspiration for the great French artists Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Sisley and Dégas. Who is not moved by the breathtaking beauty of a Monet or Manet painting, as we admire how light can capture and change the way we look at the scenery and indeed the world around us?

Father Rosica develops this further. You can read the full article here.

Sunrise, Claude Monet, 1872

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