Monday, August 18, 2008

Salt of the Earth and Light of the World - from Fr.Tom

This is an article I found in my prayer that inspired me. It is a beautiful commentary on the words of Jesus from Matthew 5. 13-16. tom

Salt of the Earth and Light of the World

A reading from the homilies of St John Chrysostom on Mt 5. 13-16

“You are the salt of the earth.” The word is entrusted to you, Christ says, not for your life, but for the whole world. Nor am I sending you to two cities, or ten or twenty, nor to one people, as I once sent the prophets, but over land and sea, to the whole world, a world in very evil condition. For when he said, “You are the salt of the earth”, he showed that all human nature was rendered unsavory and corrupt by sin. Therefore he looks for those virtues in them principally which are the more necessary and useful for taking care of the many. The man who is gentle, modest, merciful and just does not shut up his good works in himself but is concerned that those fair springs should flow for the benefit of others. Again, he who is clean of heart; and a peacemakers who feels the urge for truth -- such a man orders his life for the benefit of all.

Do not think, he says, that you are being drawn into minor skirmishes, nor that you are dealing with matters of little moment. “You are the salt of the earth.” What then? Did they restore what was decayed? No. By mixing in salt they cannot help things already decayed. They certainly did not do this; but they mixed salt with what had already been renewed, freed from corruption, and handed over to them; and they preserved it in the newness received from the Lord. Deliverance from the corruption of sin required the power of Christ; to prevent a return to that corruption demanded hard work on their part.
You see how he gradually shows them to be superior to the prophets? He declares them to be teachers not of Palestine but of the whole world. So do not be surprised, he says, if I leave the rest and address you, and draw you on to such great dangers. Consider the number and vastness of the cities, peoples and races I am sending you to rule. So I desire not only that you be prudent, but that you should make others like yourselves. If you are not men of that kind, you will not be able even to look after yourselves.

For others who have lost their savor can recover it through your ministry; but if you fall into that evil condition, you draw others into ruin with you. So the greater the task entrusted to you, the greater effort you need. That is why Christ says: “If the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men”.

To prevent their being afraid to go forth in public when hearing the words, “When men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you”, he says: “If you are not ready for these things, you have been chosen vain. You will inevitably be abused but it will do you no harm at all. Rather it will witness to your constancy. If, however, through fear of abuse you fall away from the zeal that befits you, you are likely to have much worse suffer¬ings, to have a bad name with everyone, and to be an object of contempt to all: that is what being trodden under foot means.”

Then he goes on to another and more sublime metaphor: “You are the light of the world.” Once more, of the world, not of one nation or of twenty cities, but of the whole earth: a light to the mind; surpassing the rays of the sun, just as they are a spiritual salt. First salt, then light, to teach you what profit proceeds from ardent preaching, what benefit from serious doctrine. For their effect is to bind fast and make firm they give clear sight and lead us on to virtue. “A city set on a hill cannot be hid; nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel.” Again by these words he urges them to a well-ordered way of life, teaching them to be ready for action, since they live with all eyes upon them, contestants in the center of a stadium that is the world.

NB Highlighting and underlining by me, Tom.

Divine Office, III, pp 429- 431.

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