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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Last Sunday we read Matthew’s account of the Beatitudes, which describe the qualities of those who follow Jesus, who demonstrated them in his own life. In today’s gospel he singles out two things which symbolize the activity of a Christian, namely salt and light. Salt has got a bad name nowadays because it is overused; however it is still needed for flavouring. In the ancient world, salt was essential as a preservative, as there were no refrigerators. It was valuable and Roman soldiers were often paid in this commodity; hence the word “salary”, derived from the Latin “sal”. We do not see salt working in food but we appreciate what it does. Likewise a Christian adds flavour to his society by being a good person and loving his neighbour.

We take light for granted but in Jesus’s time there was no electricity and darkness would have been a common occurrence. It was seen as a symbol of sin. Light must have been very precious. John, in his Prologue, contrasts darkness with the light which is Jesus: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

Imagine  an aeroplane as it comes into land at night. Far below are thousands of tiny twinkling lights. These might be  seen as images of multitudes of people going about their everyday lives, spreading their goodness.