Isaiah 58:7-10 ><)))*> 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ><)))*> Matthew 5:13-16
For most of us, 2020 is a very tough year with all the dark clouds that have come to hover above us in January remain in this month of February.
Threats from the corona virus are growing especially in our country. And while the alert level at Taal Volcano had gone down, dangers of its major eruption remain while volcanologists observed last week a “crater glow” on Mayon Volcano, indicating a possible rising of magma in the world’s most perfect cone.
Elsewhere, more bad news are happening like the sudden deaths this week of healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez and of our very own and beloved Fr. Danny Bermudo, just 24 hours apart due to heart attacks.
In our own circles of family and relatives, friends and colleagues are also dark clouds covering us while we go through our many trials and tests in life that seem to eclipse this early the many gains we have achieved in the whole of 2019.
Indeed, year 2020 shows us in “perfect vision” the sad realities of dark spots in life that behoove us more to heed Christ’s call to be the light of the world.
Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the light of the world. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father.”Matthew 5:14, 16
Jesus is the light of the world, not us
Our gospel this Sunday follows immediately the inaugural preaching of Jesus called “the Sermon on the Mount” with the Beatitudes at its centerpiece. We have skipped that part of the gospel last Sunday due to the celebration of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
For us to better appreciate this Sunday’s gospel, let us keep in mind that for Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount is the great discourse of Jesus Christ that depicts his image not only as the new Moses but as the Law himself, being both our Teacher and Savior as well.
Jesus shows us a picture of his person in the Beatitudes as someone we must imitate in being “poor in spirit, meek, and merciful” so we can follow his path to the Father. After all, as the Son of God, Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6).
Hence, after enumerating the nine Beatitudes, Jesus followed up his Sermon on Mount with a call for us to be the salt and the light of the world: as salt, we merely bring out the Christ or the taste in every person and as light, it is the light of Christ that we share.
Focus remains in being like Jesus, not in replacing him who is our Savior. That is why he tells us clearly before shifting to another lesson in his Sermon that “your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father” (Mt.5:16).
Sharing Christ’s light with our good deeds as a community
So, how do we share the light of Jesus Christ in this age when so many others are claiming to be the light that will dispel all darkness in our lives?
As early as during the darkest period in the history of Israel in the Old Testament called the “Babylonian Captivity (or Exile)”, God had taught his people how to become light for one another during trials and sufferings.
Thus says the Lord: Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn… if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.Isaiah 58:7-8, 10
To share one’s bread with the hungry, to welcome the homeless, to clothe the hungry are some of the most concrete demands placed by God to his people since he had freed them from slavery in Egypt and later in Babylonia (Iraq today) when the third part of the Book of Isaiah was written.
Eventually, this prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus Christ who also preached exactly the same things shortly before fulfilling his mission in Jerusalem when he stressed the need to do good to one another because “whatsoever we do to one another, especially to the least among us, we also do unto him” (Mt.25:31-40).
We shall hear this part of Matthew’s gospel at the end of our current liturgical year on November 22, 2020 in the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King.
These instructions became the basis of our catechism’s “spiritual and corporal works of mercy” that Pope Francis stressed in 2016 during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
By saying “you are the light of the world”, Jesus is telling us that to fulfill this mission, we have to do it together as a community, as his Body, the Church!
No matter how good and holy we are, none of us is the “light of the world” on our own.
One candle or lamp, or even a light bulb today cannot produce enough light to brighten a whole town or community. But, if one Christian will be lighting just one little candle in the dark, he or she can encourage others especially those who are timid, hesitant, and indifferent until they finally set the world ablaze with Christ’s light.
Christ’s call to be the light of the world is also a call for us to be united as one community, one family, one faithful couple with all our imperfections and sinfulness. What matters is our striving to be good disciples, always charitable to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Here we find the direct relationship of mission and community: every mission given by Jesus is also a call to become a community because without it, it soon becomes a cult centered on the disciple than the Lord.
The example of St. Paul in sharing Christ’s light
St. Paul shows us the best example of being a light of Jesus is to always have it done and fulfilled in the context of a community, of the Church as the Body of Christ, avoiding chances of grabbing the light from him for personal gains.
“I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.”1 Corinthians 2:3-5
It has always happened especially for us serving in the Church that in sharing the light of Christ, we get carried by our ministry and apostolate that we forget him until we claim being the light ourselves.
Sometimes, we consciously or unconsciously create clouts and personality cults for ourselves for being the best, the brightest, even the holiest and most humble of all!
We foolishly brag the great buildings and edifices we have built or the countless malnourished kids we have fed or sent to school for free through college, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera without being bothered at all where is Jesus Christ in all our efforts and projects!
How sad when we forget that what matters most in life is not what we have done or what we have achieved but what have we become as bearers of the light of Christ like St. Paul.
My dear friend, if you are going through many darkness in life today, simply be good, think only of Jesus Christ in everybody you meet and deal with. That is actually when you shine brightest as the light of Christ because people will be surprised at how calmly and gracefully you carry your cross.
In that way, you encourage others living in darkness to let their little sparks of light come out too without realizing how in their own darkness and limitations they have made Christ’s light seen. Amen.
Have a bright and blessed Sunday with your loved ones!