This segment from the Sermon on the Mount contains words which are both exciting and demanding. That we who follow Jesus are the salt of the earth and the light of the world and that is high praised indeed.
It must be remembered that the crowd to whom Jesus was talking were just ordinary folk, no more virtuous than they had to be, a lot like us in other words. Jesus was presenting them with a powerful challenge, but also a warning.
If their light went out, if their salt turned tasteless, they would just be trampled in the dust.
Fr. Greeley's Last Book:
Once upon a time a certain Catholic college was trying to recruit a brilliant high school quarter back from a small southern town. The coach and the president (a priest) told the players on the team that the potential recruit was from the “bible belt” and was very upright and serious about his religion and about his studies. Both said to the players you must respect his faith and convince him that this is a high quality academic place (which it was by the way) and that you guys are good Catholics (which they were, more or less) even if you don’t read your bible every day.
So the young man came. He was tall and solid and poised and very good looking, and could throw a spiral sixty yards with ease. Just what they needed to win their conference. So they showed him around and told him how easy it was to collect an athlete’s B, and even for a QB to persuade a professor to turn the B into an A. They told him that all the young women on campus chased after the star athletes (which wasn’t true) and how they could smuggle booze into the dorms and never get caught. They advised him that a star could cut as many classes as he wanted and no one would do anything to him. They took him to one of the local bars where they all consumed several beers (restrained in comparison with their usual practice), though he was content with a diet coke – once he learned that the bar didn’t serve milk). This is a great place, they argued, you can have a lot of fun and you don’t really need to worry about your studies. A guy like you will be a big man on campus they day he arrives.
When he left, our young friends were very proud of themselves. They were sure that they had sold the recruit on the school. They used the same strategy that older guys had used on them. They were astonished to learn that he had chosen a small evangelical college in the South. Thus did the light of the earth hide under a bush.
1 Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the
LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!
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