February 5th 2023
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Welcoming the word of Jesus – in which our identity is – and humbly witnessing it in life, we too will give glory to the Father.
The Gospel passage of this Fifth Sunday per annum helps us to reflect on the identity of the disciple of Christ.
Who is the Christian, what are his specific features? How to recognize him or her?
Jesus uses two simple and effective images: salt and light (cf. Mt 5:13.14).
Salt, as you know, makes tasty and preserves food, while light envelops, warms and illuminates, making us instantly visible. Salt, in its symbolic value, brings together a large range of meanings. First of all that of the covenant. In the Semitic culture there was the so-called pact of salt, where people undertook to be in solidarity with each other. Even today, among the Arabs, to indicate a profound solidarity we say: “There is salt between us.” Not surprisingly, Jesus invites his disciples to have salt with each other or to have relationships, to be brothers with hearts set on peace (cf. Mk 9,50b). Salt also represents wisdom. In fact, the fool is ignorant. Wise is he who knows how to evaluate things objectively and honestly, as Saint Bernard would say, who has an edifying, sensible word (cf. Col 4:6). Finally, salt is also synonymous with purification, because, as we remember, it preserves from contamination and corruption. The Christian must therefore be among his borthers and sisters in the world, salt which saves from deterioration; salt that gives flavour to life.
The second picture it is equally suggestive. The light refers to life, as well as to the truth, which allows man to have an authentic knowledge of self and of God; it breaks into the darkness of our falsehood, illuminating and guiding the conscience of man. If the Fourth Gospel reminds us that the Logos is the true light (cf. Jn 1:9), Simeon the New Theologian adds that “it transforms into light those it illuminates”. However, Jesus warns against a risk, that is, to put the lamp underneath the bushel the and not on the lantern stand. Sometimes the believer lacks the courage of faith, of the testimony of the Word of life and he prefers to conform to the dominant mentality. Nietzsche, in tones of reproach, said: «Dear Christians, your works should make the Bible almost superfluous—because you yourselves should constitute the Bible”. Welcoming the word of Jesus – our identity – and by humbly witnessing it in life we too will give glory to the Father (cf.Mt 5:16).
Commentary by b. Sandro Carotta, osb Abbazia di Santa Maria – Praglia (Italy)
Translation by f. Mark Hargreaves, Prinknash Abbey