Coming on the heels of the Beatitudes is this gem from Jesus, only four verses:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lamp stand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”
The late Father Joseph Champlin had a great reflection on this reading in Together For Life:
“What really scares the hell out of me is the fear I will someday start to take her for granted.” These words of a first-year law student, married only two weeks earlier, reflect his concern for the future. He worries that later on he and she and they may become careless. His fear is well founded. The freshness of a new life together gradually does fade. Love can flourish in spite of this but only if given constant cultivation.
Couples ponder, often to themselves in the quiet of their own thoughts, “What if our love dies? What if it doesn’t work out?” I’ve had that fear. I’m sure most married people have.
The onset of love seems almost magical, and the emphasis on romance in Western society seems to lean heavy on the notion of true love, eternal love, etc.. What is missing is the hard work that accompanies a true love is also a well-cultivated love.
Jesus shares with us the human condition. He spends twelve verses saying “Blessed are they,” then drops a dose of reality in our laps like a baby’s full diaper. Our salt can lose flavor and get trampled. Our light can be hidden away. We can screw it up as badly as we can imagine.
Do couples receive realistic counseling during their engagement? Are dirty diapers plopped in their lap? Sure, lots of couples are blinded by the light of their love, and are unwilling to deal with realities. Sometimes we can only remark, “Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”
A couple that chose this gospel reading would be picking one of the shorter selections, but it wouldn’t lack for impact or for being profound. Applied to the marriage, this advice about living out one’s faith is well-considered. Hopefully for the couples who choose this reading, it will be well-heard as well.