Jesus came into the world as light to banish the darkness of a broken world. As the disciples that we are, we are also called to be “the light of the world” as He tells us in this Sunday’s Gospel (see also John 1:5, 9; 8:12; 9:5).
The three images that Jesus employs in the Gospel this Sunday to describe the Church (the Kingdom of God) are clearly associated with the identity and vocation of Israel seen in the Old Testament.
First, God from all ages had prefigured His Kingdom with David’s Kingdom and David’s sons’ with a “covenant of salt,” salt being a symbol of permanence and purity (see 2 Chronicles 13:5, 8; Leviticus 2:13; Ezekiel 43:24).
Second, Jerusalem was destined to be “a city built on a hill-top [that] cannot be hidden” that draws all nations to itself by the glory of its light that comes forth from her temple (see Isaiah 2:2; 60:1-3).
Third, Israel herself was also given the mission of being a light to the nations (nations can also be translated as “gentiles”), so that salvation and redemption would extend to the ends of the earth (see Isaiah 42:6; 49:6).
Our Sunday Mass Readings this week clearly identify that the Church, and each one of her members, is called to fulfil Israel’s threefold mission that Jesus points out. Through our faith and good works, we need to overcome the darkness of this world in the name of Jesus so that His light will shine forth from us, as this Sunday’s Psalm reminds us.
Our faith, we are reminded by these readings also, can never be a private thing; something that is only personal and need not be shared: “No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house.”
As Isaiah tells us in the First Reading, we must pour ourselves out, leaving nothing to ourselves, for the afflicted and “Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over.” We must bring our light, Jesus the light of the world, to the poor, the hungry, the naked, and especially to the enslaved — to those who are enslaved to sin (big and small sin alike). May people be attracted to us by the light that they see within us.
Therefore, let us pray that we, like St Paul says in our Second Reading this Sunday, might proclaim with our whole lives “Him as the crucified Christ.”