Reflection on Matthew 5.13-20 (3 before Lent, Year A)

Matthew 5.13-20

Jesus went up the mountain and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to teach them: ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. 

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. 

‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 


Jesus said: Truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.

We live in an age of constant compromise. We wrap that compromise up in all sorts of terminology, but it is still compromise. Whether we call it ambition, compassion or economic and political expediency, it is still compromise. When we are tempted to follow that path of compromise we often find ourselves creating an ever-widening gulf between ourselves and God because our compromises so often involve our side-stepping the demands of true discipleship.

Today’s reading comes from the Sermon on the Mount. Just after Jesus gives us that counter-cultural and challenging teaching we know as The Beatitudes, he describes us as salt and light. Salt preserves, cleanses and enhances. Light banishes darkness, bringing all that it touches into focus.

As salt we are called to help those around us by seeking good, by healing and restoring that which is damaged, by building up and bringing out the best in others. As light we are called to remember that even a tiny candle can make a huge difference in a dark space. We are thus called to shed light on confusion, misunderstanding or fear; we are called to carry the light of Christ before and around us as we seek to bring unity and liberty into the communities we love and serve in Christ’s name.

If we are to be true disciples, both salt and light, we need to stand firm in the faith. We need to be resolute in following the commandments of God as made manifest in the earthly ministry of Jesus. We need to stop pursuing the path of compromise and become leaders of those who are lost and confused.Let us pray that we might stand firm in our faith. Let us pray that we might live our lives according to the laws of God and not according to the whims and fancies of those around us. Let us pray that we might carry the banner of Christ, the cross, with determination and strong resolve until God’s Kingdom becomes a reality in this world.