In the world: light

sermon-on-the-mount14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. 16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

Light, like salt, affects its environment by being distinctive. The disciple who is visibly different from other men will influence them. But the aim of his good works is not to parade his own virtue, but to direct attention to the God who inspired them. By so doing the disciple will give light to all (cf. Phil. 2:15). Continue reading

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In the world: salt

sermon-on-the-mount13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. 16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

As Boring [181] notes, salt (cf. Mark 9:50; Luke 14:35) had several uses in the ancient world. In the OT, salt was added to sacrifices (Lev 2:13), connected with purity (Ex 30:35; 2 Kgs 2:19–22), symbolic of covenant loyalty (Num 18:19; Ezra 4:14), and used as a seasoning for food (Job 6:6). In the Mishnah salt is associated with wisdom (m. Sotah 9:15).  As well, salt was used as a preservative. It is easy to see how all the OT usages of salt would be possible connotations. Continue reading

In the world: discipleship

sermon-on-the-mount11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Verses 11-12 (not part of the Sunday gospel) are often called the 9th beatitude because of the opening phrase. But where vv.3-10 describe the good life, these verses bring it into contrast and begin to describe the cost (v.11) and remind the listener that you are simply joining a long tradition. The prophets who earlier proclaimed the kingdom and its demands were also persecuted. Continue reading

In the world: context

sermon-on-the-mount11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. 16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. Continue reading

Crossing Over

crossing-the-divideSeptember 1965 should have been a great year. I was a rising 8th grader at St James school in Orlando – you know, about to become king of the school. That’s when geography dealt a cruel blow. Both my older sisters were going to the Bishop Moore HS – which was the opposite direction from St James. In a moment, my fate was sealed. I had to transfer to St. Charles which shared a campus with the HS. I was exiled from all my friends to attend a school filled with kids who thought they were too cool, who wore all the new clothes, who bought all the right albums, who won all the school championships. Continue reading

A Light to the Nations – giving voice to Faith

light2nationsOver the last several Sundays I have been connecting the readings beginning with Holy Family Sunday.  St. Paul gave us advice on being a holy family: to put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and over all these, love. (cf. Col 3:12-13). And so I encourage you to use your family to practice those virtues, to become the embodiment of those virtues. Then on Epiphany Sunday, the message was to reveal those virtues to the world through your life – to become the epiphany of Christ to others. The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord followed in which the prophet Isaiah’s word says that in our baptism we are formed as a covenant the people – a vow, a promise, a bond, a connection that binds us to the promise and the power of Christ on one side and to the world on the other.

And so with good intent and hopeful hearts we work away in our personal lives and in our families – to be the person, the family, the witnesses to heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and over all these, love. We want those virtues in our lives and in our families, but have we been practicing them? Have been talking about them within the family. I suspect most of us pray about it, we work at it, we succeed, we fail, we start over… mostly silently.  And think about it. If we are hesitant to speak about it within the safety of home, how likely are we to testify about it all in the company of others.? Continue reading