Tuesday - Ordinary Time
1) Opening prayer
God of wisdom and love,
source of all good,
send your Spirit to teach us your truth
and guide our actions
in your way of peace.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 5,13-16
Jesus said to
his disciples: 'You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, what
can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to
be trampled under people's feet.
'You are light
for the world. A city built on a hill-top 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 people's sight,
so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven.
• Yesterday, in meditating on the
Beatitudes, we passed through the door of entry of the Sermon on the Mountain
(Mt 5, 1-12). Today in the Gospel we receive an important instruction on the
mission of the Community. It should be the salt of the earth and the light of
the world (Mt 5, 13-16). Salt does not exist for itself, but to give flavour to
the food. Light does not exist for itself, but for the service of people. At
the time when Matthew wrote his Gospel, this mission was very difficult for the
communities of the converted Jews. In spite that they were living in faithful
observance of the Law of Moses, they were expelled from the Synagogues, cut
away from their Jewish past. Regarding this, among the converted pagans, some
said: “After the coming of Jesus, the Law of Moses has become obsolete”. All
this caused tension and uncertainty. The openness of some seemed to be
criticism of the observance of others, and vice versa. This conflict brought about
a crisis which led many to close up in their own position. Some wanted to
advance, to go ahead, others wanted to place the light under the table. Many
asked themselves: “In last instance, which is our mission?” Recalling and
updating the words of Jesus, Matthew tries to help them.
• Matthew 5, 13-16: Salt of the earth. By using images of daily life, with simple and direct words, Jesus makes known
which is the mission and the reason for being a Christian community: to be
salt. At that time when it was very hot, people and animals needed to consume
much salt. The salt, which was delivered by merchants in great blocks in the
public square, was consumed by the people. What remained fell to the ground and
lost its savour. “It no longer serves for anything, but it is thrown out and
trampled under people’s feet”. Jesus recalls this use in order to clarify
for the disciples the mission which they have to carry out.
• Matthew 5, 14-16: Light of the world. The
comparison is obvious. Nobody lights a candle and places it under the tub. A
city built on the hill top, cannot be hidden. The community should be light, it
should enlighten. It should not be afraid to show the good that it does. It
does not do it to make itself seen, but what it does can be seen. The salt does
not exist for itself. The light does not exist for itself! This is how the
community should be. It cannot remain enclosed in itself. “Your light must
shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise
to your Father in Heaven.”
• Matthew 5, 17-19: Not one dot, not one
little stroke will disappear from the Law. Among the converted Jews there
were two tendencies. Some thought that it was not necessary to observe the laws
of the Old Testament because we are saved by the faith in Jesus and not by the
observance of the Law (Rm 3, 21-26). Others thought that they should continue
to observe the laws of the Old Testament (Ac 15, 1-2). In each one of the two
tendencies there were some more radical groups. Before this conflict, Matthew
tries to find a balance, the equilibrium, over and beyond the two extremes. The
community should be the space, where this equilibrium can be attained and
lived. The response given by Jesus continued to be very actual: “I have not
come to abolish the law, but to complete it!” The communities cannot be
against the Law, nor can they close themselves up in the observance of the law.
Like Jesus did, they must advance forward, and show in a practical way that the
objective which the law wants to attain in life is the perfect practice of
•The different tendencies in the first
Christian communities. The plan of salvation has
three stages united among themselves from the earth to life: a) the Old
Testament: the path of the Hebrew People, orientated, guided by the Law of God.
b) The life of Jesus of Nazareth: it renews the Law of Moses starting from his
experience of God, Father and Mother. c) The life of the communities: through
the spirit of Jesus, they tried to live as Jesus lived it. The union of these
three stages generates the certainty of faith that God is in our midst. The
intention to break or weaken the unity of this plan of salvation gave rise to
various groups and tendencies in the communities:
i) The Pharisees did not recognize Jesus as
Messiah and accepted only the Old Testament. In the communities there were some
people who sympathized with the thought of the Pharisees (Ac 15, 5).
ii) Some converted Jews accepted Jesus as
Messiah, but they did not accept the liberty of spirit with which the communities
lived the presence of the Risen Jesus. (Ac 15,1).
iii) Others, both converted Jews and
pagans, thought that with Jesus had come the end of the Old Testament. From now
on, Jesus alone and the life in the Spirit.
iv) There were also Christians who lived so
fully the life in the liberty of the Spirit, that they no longer looked at the
life of Jesus of Nazareth, nor the Old Testament (1Co 12,3).
v) Now the great concern of the Gospel of
Matthew is that of showing that the Old Testament, Jesus of Nazareth and the
life in the Spirit cannot be separated. The three form part of the same and
only project of God and give us the central certainty of faith: The God of
Abraham and of Sarah is present in the midst of the communities by the faith in
Jesus of Nazareth.
4) Personal questions
• For you, in your life experience, for
what does salt serve? Is your community salt? For you, what does light signify
in your life? How is your community light?
• How do the people of the neighbourhood
see your community? Does your community have some attraction for others? Is it
a sign? Of what? For whom?
5) Concluding Prayer
judiciously guides the humble,
poor in his way.
unfailing and constancy mark all his paths,
for those who keep his covenant and his
decrees. (Ps 25,9-10)