Sermon delivered by Fr. Santosh Madanu on the third Sunday before Lent A, Sunday, February 9, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.
If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.
Lectionary texts: Isaiah 58.1-12; Psalm 112.1-10; 1 Corinthians 2.1-16; St. Matthew 5.13-20.
Jesus tells us who we are. Jesus says you are the salt of the earth and the Light of the world. When Jesus was talking with the crowed that have followed Him from Galilee, Jerusalem, and Judea and beyond the Jordan. They have come to see Jesus, to listen and learn, to be healed. They have come in search of meaning, direction, and the purpose. You and I stand among that crowed for the same purpose. Jesus is asking us to season and transform the human activity in such a way that reveals God in this world. Last week gospel showed us to be God’s receivers, this week Gospel shows us that we too be God-giver, God-sharers. The salt and light ultimately look like the life of Jesus Christ in us.
To live as salt of the earth and light of the world is to know our deepest, truest, and most authentic self. It is a life that we long for and the life of God desires us to have. It is both who we are and how we are to be. To lose saltiness and the light is to lose Jesus Christ. It is to deny God. So never to lose our identity in Christ Jesus. The point Jesus making is that, as a child of God, and follower of Jesus Christ, you are critical to life on earth. The history gives us glimpses of what the world would be like without God’s people. At the time of Noah’s flood there were only eight followers of God on the planet. The LORD SAW HOWGREAT man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain”. (Genesis 6:5, 6). In our times we see, the communist countries don’t acknowledge God and many Middle East countries the Christians are slaughtered because of their faith in Jesus. The world needs all of us. Because many are genuine in search to know the truth and to find source of life in God. It does not make any sense if we hide ourselves from being witness of the Light of Jesus. Let your light shine where ever you are. Let your spouse see that you belong to Christ. Let your children see that you are His. Let your friends on Facebook see that you are His. And Let your coworkers see that you are His. Let everyone see your true identity in Christ JESUS. THIS IS WHAT GOD HAS MADE YOU and ME.
If we are the salt and the light then we ought to be tasted and seen by the world. The world is in darkness, unfaithfulness, godless. So we need to show who God is. Regardless of where we are in life of our faith. You and I become light of Christ for the life of the world. Friends we together in community, St. Augustine family, and in our own individual lives bear out the light of Christ. Our lives should be model of God’s presence. No one can kill our faith, no one can put off our true light of Christ. This is the grace Jesus blessed us with.
Jesus makes clear what is the mission, the vocation, the task and responsibility of those who live according to the Beatitudes.
The blessings promised by Jesus are to spread throughout the whole world, and to the whole of humanity, through his disciples. This is entirely in accordance with the way God has acted throughout salvation history. Think of how God’s blessing came originally through the one man Noah, with his family; then through the one man Abraham; then through the children of Israel, and even just the tribe of Judah. Who were they among all the many nations of the earth? Yet, according to the dispositions of Divine Providence, God reaches out to the many through the few. So with Jesus. He gathers to himself just twelve disciples; then he speaks to a crowd of insignificant nobodies on a hillside in a remote Roman Province; and through them he speaks to us. Who are we? Nothing and nobody. No, worse than that, we are sinners. Yet also: by our baptism we are the children of God; we are Temples of the Holy Spirit; we have been made one with Jesus in his mystical Body. So today Jesus entrusts to us a tremendous power for good. We, who are the heirs of the Kingdom of heaven: we are to share actively in the mission of Jesus to bring salvation to the whole world.
You are the salt of the earth. Even today we can understand something of this metaphor. We know that a little bit of salt gives savor to a large amount of otherwise tasteless food. Salt preserves meat from corruption. Used appropriately, salt purifies and cleanses. But also: according to the Old Testament law, a little salt was to be added to sacrifices, whether of animals or of cereal (Lv 2:13; Ezk 43:24). So salt can be taken as a symbol of sanctification.
In addition: in the thought world of the New Testament, salt symbolizes wisdom. We then, who are so few, so apparently powerless, such frail and flawed instruments: we are to preserve our world from corruption; we are to save it from folly; we are to sanctify it; we are to make it a fit sacrifice to God.
And then immediately Jesus issues a dire warning. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? Having had such blessings bestowed on us; such high ideals held out to us; such a noble task entrusted to us: what if we then turn aside, and become merely worldly again? What if we retain the name, but not the reality of Christian? What if we allow ourselves to lose our love for Jesus, and become separated from him through our own fault? What if our personal conduct becomes a living contradiction of the Gospel, and we land up acting actually as a counter witness? Of course while life lasts there is always the chance for repentance and conversion, thank God: but still the stakes are very high. If we persist in our infidelity, we must expect to be treated finally as we have richly deserved.
You are the light of the world. Of course this light is not our own, but the light of Jesus in us. I am the light of the world, Jesus says in St. John’s Gospel (Jn 8:12). So St. Paul cried out to the Galatians that it was no longer he who was living, but Christ who lived in him (Gal 2:20). So we ask that our own lives may become a radiance of the life of Jesus. We pray that Jesus may take possession of us so completely, and dwell in us so fully, that through us the divine light may shine out in our world.
It is difficult to imagine a world without light. In Jesus’ usage, the light is not simply to allow others to see whatever they wish but it is for others to witness the acts of justice that Jesus’ followers perform
Salt and light are indispensable household commodities. Salt and light in spiritual sense that Jesus is speaking has indispensable value.
Jesus is asking you, Mike, you Martin, You George, You Beth go, right now to spread the Good News of Salvation. To bring back the world that I created, to strengthen the faith of all Christians. To be light of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ disciples will prevent moral decay in the world.
This means that there is a sanctifying influence that Christians have.
- 1 Cor. 7:14, “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” How to be a Christian is something the world learn primarily from other human beings
You are salt and you are light.
“The kingdom of God is lived here and now – that is what it says in that letter from Christ which we are and shall more and more be.”
Can you live with such a commitment that people come to understand the realm of God through you?
You are salt.
You are light.
So, why did Jesus refer to them as salt? Well, here’s what He seems to mean:
Disciples of Christ have a seasoning influence.
Disciples of Christ help to preserve. The world is corrupt and continues to corrupt.
Their message is the remedy for further corruption. Some people in the world won’t like the message, but others will accept it and be preserved.
Disciples of Christ are a testament to God’s promises. – Our lives are to testify to God’s unfailing love, to His promises from the past, and to His promises for the future.
John 1:4-5, 9 – In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
John 3:19 – “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness instead of the light because their deeds were evil.”
John 8:12 – When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven
Whenever we try to lessening God’s law or bend His rules it is serious business. When we are lessening God’s law and bending of His rules leads our children, our friends, our co-workers to do the same it is serious business. Jesus is telling us the sins are really serious business. Jesus came all the way from heaven to earth to tell us keep the Law and the prophets.
Jesus is interested in the heart. So let us not worried about what the world think of us but what God thinks of us.
Prayer: Holy God, set our hearts and minds on things above. Our hearts and our minds are so contaminated with lustful, greedy, angry, lazy, competitive, and prideful thoughts and ambitions. Forgive us for the impurity of our hearts through Jesus. May we become salt and light of the world that you desired to bring many to your Infinite Light and Truth. Bless us to be citizens of your kingdom. May we remain faithful to you until you come in glory. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen.