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Tuesday – Tenth week – OT1
Readings: 2 Cor 1:18-22; Mt 5:13-16.
1/ First Reading: RSV 2 Corinthians 1:18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God. 21 But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has commissioned us; 22 he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
I. THEME: Human beings are equipped to glorify God.
In the relationship with others, one’s reputation has an effect on what one says and does; for example, the audience used to believe in the author’s reputation before they believe in the author’s lecture. The reputation is earned after a period of time in which the author worked hard to prove that he is a reliable person. In opposition, if the audience has a reason to doubt the author’s reputation, they shall not believe or even don’t want to hear what the author wants to say. Similarly in preaching the Gospel, a preacher needs to establish his reputation before he preaches to his audience. If he lives an immoral or untruthful life, he can’t convince others to believe in what he preaches because “the word can draw attention; but the deeds can attract people to follow.”
Today readings concentrate on the fact that God has fully equipped people so that they can be witnesses for Him. In the first reading, St. Paul clearly confirmed that all God’s promises have been fulfilled. Paul and his disciples imitated Christ to live and to witness for this truth. In the Gospel, Jesus said to his disciples that they are salt and light of the world, they must let their light so shine before men, that they may see their good works and give glory to their Father who is in heaven.
1/ Reading I: “All the promises of God find their Yes in him.”
1.1/ Christ is all “Yes” for God: St. Paul confirms that Christ fulfilled all God’s promises with the forefathers and the prophets, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God.” A few examples illustrate this point: God promises to give Abraham a descendant which shall be as many as stars in heaven and as sand on the seashore; He promises with prophets that He shall give people the Messiah and salvation to all nations. The “Amen” which we often end after prayers means “we wish what we desired to happen.” Since Christ is the source of all blessings, we ask for these things in his name and wish that God shall give what we asked.
In opposition with God, people don’t always keep what they promise. Therefore, the faithful must imitate Christ to always speak, to live and to witness for the truth. St. Paul said to the Corinthian faithful: “As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No.For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God.” When people faithfully keep what Christ teaches, they witnessed for him and God.
1.2/ The Holy Spirit is the guarantee for all God’s “Yes”: God not only sends Christ to achieve what He promises with people, but also sends His Spirit to help people to fulfill what He demands. For example, Christ died to bring the eternal life for people; in order to have this life, God requires people to believe in Christ and to keep what he teaches. These requirements aren’t easy to do with human efforts; therefore, God, through Christ’s request, sent His Spirit to the faithful. St. Paul confirmed this fact, “But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has commissioned us;He has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” In business, to guarantee a deal is truthful, the buyer puts down an amount of money which is called “the earnest money” (arrabon); this guarantees what the buyer’s saying is true, not joking. When God sends the Holy Spirit, He guarantees the salvation belongs to us if we live according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. If we don’t live according to His guidance, as a person doesn’t keep what he promised to the seller, we shall not inherit the salvation.
2/ Gospel: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Religion isn’t confined only in knowing God and ceremonies done in the church, but must be permeated in all aspects of the faithful’s life by applying what God has taught us. Jesus gave his disciples two images which are very familiar and necessary for human life, and invited us to reflect.
2.1/ The function of salt: There is nothing which is basic and cheap as salt, but it has many useful applications for human beings.
(1) Salt represents what is clean and pure because it is formed by sunlight and sea water. Christians are those who are purified by Christ’s blood and sanctified by the Holy Spirit’s grace; they must be pure and holy as salt before they can benefit others.
(2) Salt prevents food from spoiling: Because of its quality, salt is used to preserve food: Meat and fish need salt to stay longer; vegetables also need salt to last longer; even fruits also need salt to keep its favor. The Vietnamese adage used the image of fish needing salt to teach children the need to obey their parent, “Fish without salt shall be spoiled; children who disobey their parent surely shall be spoiled.” If this is true in educating children, obedience to Christ’s teaching is more important for the Christians. If the faithful have no virtues, how can they preserve themselves and others? Jesus reminded his disciples a reality, “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.”
(3) Salt increases taste for food: Salt can’t be lacked in cooking; no matter how good and fresh is the food, it shall be tasteless without salt; fish sauce is also made with salt. The Christians are equipped to become the salt of the earth. One thing we need to pay attention in this sentence is that our Lord used the verb “to be” at the present time. This means that the Christians always have this character. They, by nature, have good characters to help the world to be better.
2.2/ The function of light: This image is more familiar to human beings than salt. Light has many functions:
(1) Light is used to shine: When the sun sets, people need light to avoid falling and to find things. The Christians have the truth as light to avoid falsehood.
(2) Light is used to warm up: When the weather becomes cold, people need heat from the sun or fire or heaters to keep themselves warm. The Christians have the Holy Spirit to warm them up from loneliness and sorrow.
(3) Light is used to protect people from dangers: Sins or crimes used to happen in dark places. Sinners and criminals hate the light because it displays their wicked deeds.
Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.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.Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Christ is God’s “Yes” and “Amen.” We should imitate Christ to always say, to speak and to witness for the truth.
– Holy Spirit is love and truth. Before we can preach and witness for God, we must be permeated with His love and truth.
– We are well equipped to glorify God; we should help people to recognize God as the only One God who loves and cares for all people.