Weekend of 5 February 2017

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time | Year A

Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing , and can only be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’


Jesus warns that people who do “good works” are likely to be noticed.  In the best of worlds they will inspire others to praise God and perhaps even to do good works themselves. For the truly humble who think only of the needs of the other person, doing good is not accompanied by any soul-searching.  The works are simply and quietly done. 

When people in leadership or high-profile positions do good works their light does indeed shine.  Unfortunately its brilliance can disturb those who harbor jealousy, envy and unfulfilled ambition, and the response is not praise directed to God, but nastiness directed at the person.  Across the spectrum of human activity, from children in the playground to adults in their political or working lives, even in families, the beautiful light emanating from someone who is doing good can trigger negative reactions in others.
Being attacked by others is not a pleasant experience, and it has the power to cripple our future response. If its effects cannot be overcome it leads to fear of being noticed and limits our ability to respond to the promptings of the Spirit when faced with the opportunity to do good or to take a leadership position. 
Sports-goods manufacturer Nike has the saying “Just do it” printed on some of its products.  As a saying it doesn’t form a total philosophy of life but it can be thought-provoking when considered in the light of the gospel above.  When we know what Christ would do, then, as Nike says, we should “just do it”, after making sure that our motives are pure.  Shrinking from being “the light of the world” is not an option for Christians.
We also have an obligation to examine our own responses to the good done by others.  Rejoicing in their achievements, supporting and encouraging their good works and always thanking God who gives us both gifts and good people - all lead to giving praise to our Father in heaven. 
Responding joyfully to the light which shines through others is as important as being the light ourselves.