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GOSPEL COMMENTARIES


 

 

 

THE SALT OF THE EARTH AND THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD (Matthew 5: 1-12a)

The human race is decaying because of sin. So the disciple of Christ must be the SALT of the earth. To become salt, one must be meek, merciful and righteous. . .and these virtues should overflow so as to benefit others.

The disciples cannot salt that which is already spoilt or rotten. They have to wait for the rotten to be restored by Christ through repentance; then, and only then, can they be salted and preserved.

To be set free from the rottenness of sin is the work of Christ; but for a soul not to return to its rottenness is the object of diligence and travail. 

True disciples are meant to be SALT; they are not meant to go about flattering and soothing. They must hurt all men; this way they become dear to all good men but hateful to all evil men.

"If the salt lost its savor, wherefore  shall it be salted with? It is good for nothing but to be cast out and to be trodden underfoot." When does salt lose its saltiness? If, when persecuted, reviled and lied about, one becomes timid in pursuing what is good. When one becomes a partner in the dissimulation of evil. Thus, one loses its saltiness and deserves to be trodden underfoot by  men. 

But if the disciple continues to salt the wounds of others in spite of persecution and revilings, then he should rejoice for this is the very purpose of salt-- to sting the corrupt while preserving the faithful. The censure of the persecutors becomes the testimony of one's saltiness. But if the disciple loses his saltiness, he will be spoken ill of and despised by all. . . this is to be "trodden".

"You are the LIGHT of the world," a light to the mind. A true disciple of Christ must live a strict life because he is set before the eyes of all men and contending in the amphitheatre of the world. He is not meant to be a light in this small part of the country. He becomes conspicuous to all as a city on a hill, as a light in a house. 

The first apostles were not even known in their town. Yet the good they wrought made their fame reach the ends of the earth. The work of God cannot sink in silence and obscurity. 

It is Christ who lights up the fire; but it is by our diligence that it keeps on burning for ourselves and for others. Lies will not obscure the brightness of the light; just keep on living a very strict way of life. It is the way of life that keeps the light burning. A true light inspires others to live the same way of life. 

If we live good lives, we save ourselves and others AND give glory to God. If we do the contrary, we destroy ourselves, others and blaspheme God. If we live good lives, those who speak evil of us really envy us and in conscience admire and approve of our works. On the other hand, when wicked people flatter you, they are really condemning you. Be the SALT of the earth and the LIGHT of the world and even a thousand lies won't be able to cover you.

St. John Chrysostom "On Matthew"

 

 

 

 

 

(02-28-04)

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