What is Christ asking of us in this Gospel? That we leave our jobs, rush out, and get involved in a whirlwind of good works? I don’t think so. Rather I believe he wants us simply to practice our Christianity, not just in church, but out there in the real world in whatever situation we happen to find ourselves. All the more so if, by reason of our position, we happen to be situated on some ‘hilltop’ where all can see us, and where people look to us for light and not for darkness. Here are some examples of what I mean.
If I’m a teacher, what do people expect from me? That I teach well, and that I refrain from showing favouritism. If I show favouritism, then I bring light to some and darkness to others. If a Christian teacher should show any kind of favouritism, it should be towards the children who are slow at learning.
If I’m a judge, what do people expect from me? Justice and fair-play. Justice is the salt of society. Solzhenitsyn says: ‘A corrupt court is worse than highway robbery.’ And Dostoyevsky said: ‘Murder by legal process is immeasurably more dreadful than murder by a brigand.’
If I’m a politician, what do people expect from me? That I work for the good of the country and not just for my own good. A corrupt politician has a lot to answer for. But then a good politician can bring a lot of light into the lives of ordinary people.
If I’m a doctor, what do people expect from me? That I would treat all the sick alike. That I would not give most of time to those who are well-off, while neglecting the poor.
If I’m a policeman, what do people expect from me? That I would I uphold the law and enforce it fairly. That I would not try to bend it or break it myself.
If I’m an employer, what do people expect from me? That I pay a fair wage and create decent working conditions for my employees. People who are doing this are shedding a lot of light around them.
If I’m a worker, what do people expect from me? That I know my job and try to do it to the best of my ability.
If I’m a reporter, what do people expect from me? That I deal in facts, not in half-truths, gossip, and lies.
If I’m a shopkeeper or businessman, what do people expect from me? That I do not overcharge, and that I give value for money.
If I’m a parent, what do the children expect from me? That I be at home. That I take more interest in them than in the pub or in my career.
If I’m a priest, what do people expect of me? That I would try to practice what I preach.
We could multiply the examples and still not cover everything and every situation. Each of us must look at our own situation and ask ourselves how we can practice our Christianity there. How we can be ‘salt’ and how we can be ‘light’ among the people we meet every day, and in the humdrum ordinary situations that occur.
I suppose in a nutshell, as they say, this Gospel is about quality of life or goodness. But my goodness must not be a put-on thing in which I seek to bring glory to myself. This is the one thing which could ruin my witness to Christ. The good I do must ﬂow from what is inside me. It must be an expression of the kind of person I am. I may not be able to be a beacon of light, but if I have even a little goodness, and try to be true to it, then I can at least be a humble candle which sheds light in its own immediate vicinity.
The best witness I can give to Christ is the authenticity of my life. Would that it could be said of me what I heard said of a friend of mine. ‘You can trust him. If he says he’ll do the job, then you can be sure it will be done.’ ‘How can you be so sure?’ I asked. ‘Because that man is a true Christian. He is a man of his word,’ came the reply.
The greatest danger facing the modern Christian is that he or she should become totally absorbed by the world and by the crowd. He or she becomes no different from other people. I think the true follower of Christ must have something special to offer, some light to shed, some ﬂavour to add. If not, then he or she is not only redundant but useless. We all know what is done with useless things.
‘The world today needs Christians who remain Christians.’ (Albert Camus).
‘What you are thunders so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.’ (Emerson).
PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL
Let us pray to the Father that as followers of Christ we may live up to our calling to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. R. Lord, hear our prayer.
For all Christians: that they may add the ﬂavour of joy and goodness to life by the way they live. [Pause] We pray to the Lord.
For our leaders: that they may help to keep society good and healthy by promoting decent values and standards. [Pause] We pray to the Lord.
For all those who live in the darkness of injustice and oppression: that the light of justice may shine on them. [Pause] We pray to the Lord.
That we may be salt and light within our own little world by doing our ordinary work well. [Pause] We pray to the Lord.
For local needs.
Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, your Son is the light of our lives and of our world. Grant that his light may shine brightly on each of us, so that together we may make our way through the darkness of this world to the radiance of our eternal home. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.
To take big matters seriously
and neglect small ones:
this is the beginning of every decline.
To exalt mankind and mistreat one’s workers;
to hold country or Church or party holy,
and to do one’s daily work badly and carelessly.
Here is where corruption begins.
Here is where the light goes out,
and the salt loses its savour.
There is only one remedy.
To set aside for the time being
all so-called serious and holy subjects
such as patriotism, politics, and so on,
and to take seriously all the small things;
to turn one’s attention to the task of the moment.
Those who have had their car repaired by a mechanic,
do not demand from the mechanic
either love of humanity or of the homeland,
but competent work.
By that and that alone he judges that mechanic,
and is right in doing so.