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Matthew 5: 13-16 – Week 10 Ordinary Time, Tuesday (King James Audio Bible KJV, Spoken Word)

13 ¶ Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

This is an extraordinary scene. Many, many people are gathered with Jesus to hear his teaching, which is the Sermon on the Mount. The people will not all be friends; there will be different, sectarian groups, and rivalries between them. Some of those gathered to listen to Jesus will be suspicious of others. Nor can the people yet understand what is happening here, just who and what Jesus is. The people have flocked to – see someone, hear someone, someone new and extraordinary, someone perhaps who can answer their needs. Their coming to Jesus is an expression of hope and longing. Who knows what thoughts there must have been as people looked around to see all those others gathered. This is a vast company of strangers.

To imagine this, to try to put ourselves into the scene of the Sermon on the Mount by thinking of how it might have been for those present, is to realise just how extraordinary Jesus’ message is in these verses. Jesus takes a very disparate crowd and he creates unity. He does this by telling those present that each and every one of them is precious, precious in God’s eyes and, each one, a precious gift to the world.

The people, then, are not called upon by Jesus to live in passive relationship with God. Christianity is not about passivity. Rather, our submission to the will of God is active. It entails great energy, great striving, great productivity. Yes, we derive our capacity for good works from God – we draw everything we are from God. It is as if, when God calls us to be the salt of the earth, to be the light of the world, to shine with Christian truth, our souls respond and resonate to God’s call; we are in tune with our Creator and sing, as it were within that wavelength.

Jesus teaches the people, throughout the Sermon on the Mount, that each one individually is an agent of good. Jesus is telling the people that they are important – they are the light of the world! It is an enabling message. It is much easier to value our neighbours when we value ourselves and see ourselves as important. There is human dignity here, so easily lost – and restored to the people in these verses by Jesus.

We may imagine that the people gathered to listen to Jesus, the crowds, may have heard Jesus’ words and filled with self-esteem, perhaps looking around at all the other people gathered, seeing anew, and recognizing neighbours where before there had been strangers or enemies. Jesus has created friendship with a gift of purposeful life.

Jesus is our light. He dwells in our hearts and shines through us. We are called not to hide our Christianity, but freely to express our joy and in all that we do and say and are witness Jesus. Let the world see that our Christianity is beautiful.

‘I see now that true charity consists in bearing with the faults of those about us, never being surprised at their weaknesses, but edified at the least sign of virtue. I see above all that charity must not remain hidden in the bottom of our hearts: “nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” It seems to me that this lamp is the symbol of charity; it must shine out not only to cheer those we love best but all in the house.’ St. Therese of Lisieux.

Psalm 120 KJV Audio | King James Audio Bible | King James Version | Word Aloud | Oliver Peers

Jesus Is Lord | Psalms | King James Audio Bible

Concluding Prayer

True Light of the world, Lord Jesus Christ,
as you enlighten all people for their salvation,
give us grace, we pray,
to herald your coming
by preparing the ways of justice and of peace.
Who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

Psalm 120 KJV Audio | King James Audio Bible | King James Version | Word Aloud | Oliver Peers

Jesus Is Lord | Psalms | King James Audio Bible

King James Audio Bible KJV | King James Version | Endnotes

You Are The Salt Of The Earth

Salt is a preservative and salt is a seasoning. This phrase encapsulates the two-fold nature of the metaphor Jesus used to describe his followers in Matthew 5:13: ‘You are the salt of the earth.’ Christians are called to be a preserving influence in the world, upholding moral values and working to prevent spiritual decay and corruption. Also Christians are called to bring flavour and meaning to the world.

As salt enhances the flavour of food, so Christians are called to bring richness and depth to life. This is not a matter of personal preference or taste, but a fundamental aspect of what it means to be human. As G.K. Chesterton wrote: ‘Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial.’

Christian faith offers a unique perspective on the nature of joy and grief, and on the ultimate meaning of human life. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christians believe that God has revealed his love and grace to the world, offering a path to salvation and eternal life. This hope and redemption is what gives Christians the ability to bring flavour and meaning to the world.

Christians have sought to live out this calling to bring flavour and meaning to the world. One way we have done this is through art and literature.

For example, C.S. Lewis used his fiction to explore the nature of good and evil, and to offer a vision of the Christian life. In his book Mere Christianity, Lewis wrote: ‘Joy is the serious business of heaven.’ By this he meant that joy is not a superficial or frivolous emotion, but rather a fundamental aspect of the Christian life, rooted in the love and grace of God.

In music, too, Christians have sought to bring flavour and meaning to the world. The composer Johann Sebastian Bach saw his music as a way to glorify God and to express the deep emotions of the human heart. In his Saint Matthew Passion, Bach used music to tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and to offer a vision of the ultimate meaning of human life.

In more recent times, Christians have used their talents to bring flavour and meaning to the world in other ways. The civil rights leader and Baptist minister Martin Luther King Jr. used his oratory skills to inspire people to work for justice and equality, and to offer a vision of a world where people were judged not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Pope Francis has emphasized the importance of both preserving and seasoning in his teachings. In his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis wrote that Christians are called to be ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘light of the world’, and that this calling involves both preserving and seasoning.

On the one hand, Pope Francis has called on Christians to be a preserving influence in the world, upholding moral values and working to prevent decay and corruption. Pope Francis has spoken out against the ‘throwaway culture’ that treats people and resources as disposable, and has called on Christians to promote a culture of life and respect for human dignity.

On the other hand, Pope Francis has also emphasized the importance of bringing flavour and meaning to the world. He has called on Christians to be joyful witnesses of the Gospel, sharing the message of God’s love and grace with those around them. In a 2013 homily, Pope Francis said: ‘We must recover the joy of evangelization, the joy of proclaiming Christ to all peoples.’

Pope Francis has emphasized the importance of using our talents. In a 2015 homily, he said: ‘Each of us has a gift that the Lord has given us. It is a gift to be shared, a gift to be given. Don’t bury your talent! Let it bear fruit in the vineyard of the Lord!’

On the poor he wrote: ‘The poor are not a problem to be solved; they are a reminder to us of the priority of sharing, solidarity and the common good.’

King James Audio Bible | KJV Psalms | Word Aloud | Oliver Peers

Jesus Is Lord | Psalms | King James Audio Bible