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Gospel for Sunday, February 5: Matthew 5: 13-16

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13You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty? It is good for nothing other than to be thrown away and trampled upon by men. 14You are the light of the world; a city located on a mountain cannot remain hidden, 15nor do you light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on the lampstand so that it gives light to all who are in the house. 16So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Mt 5: 13-16

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

A “small remnant” Church

The Church, despite being an anticipation of the Kingdom, must never lose its awareness of being a minority, of being the “remnant of Israel” (Is 10.20): Jesus speaks of it as the “leaven” (Mt 13.33), of the “salt of the earth” (Mt 5.13), of the “little flock” (Lk 12.32), all images that refer to a dimension of modesty, humility, smallness.

“The «little flock»: a flock loved by God, chosen and destined for the Kingdom, but small. This little thing can give rise to doubt and discouragement in the hearts of many. But it is a discouragement that must be dispelled: the history of salvation is regulated by the law of the “rest of Israel”, that is, of the small group of authentic believers in which the Kingdom is implemented for the benefit of all. The little flock is invited not to fear. “Do not be afraid” (Lk 12:32): vigilance, yes, promptness and commitment, but all in a climate of great trust. The Kingdom is given (the Father «was pleased to give us the Kingdom»), it rests on his love for him and not on our performance: therefore no anxiety” (B. Maggioni).

“In society the “weight” of Catholics is no longer that of a majority. We see an objective loss of influence and often cultural discredit. Social life takes place “as if God did not exist”. In a minority situation, many feel the need to better delineate their identity and to have signs of their difference from others. With the obvious danger of identity retreat, which threatens every religion of our time and gives rise to forms of fundamentalism. How to accept being a minority without becoming a sect? This is part of the challenge” (B. Chenu).

Monsignor Tonino Bello hoped for “a Church sure only of its Lord and, for the rest, weak. But not by tactic, but by program, by choice, by vocation. Not an arrogant Church, which brings people together, which wants revenge, which awaits the turn for its temporal revenge, which makes muscular displays with the frown of bodybuilders. But a disarmed Church, which eats bitter bread with the world… A Church which, although aware of being the salt of the earth, does not demand a large salt shaker for its concentrations or for the exhibition of its refinements. But a Church that penetrates and shares the history of the world… Which does not limit itself to hoping, but organizes the hope of men.”

“Yes, today there is too much nostalgia for “Christianity”: demands and invasions resurface and we would like to impose what in Christianity can only be proposed… Being a Christian cannot allow himself to be locked into identification with a specific project of liberation, of justice and peace, nor with the cultures generated by the Christian identity. The place of Christians is in the company of men: with them – without any title that a priori guarantees them more than others on the realization of a social project – they will dialogue and compare themselves with frankness and without arrogance, mindful that their Lord and master has called “little flock” inviting them to “do not fear”: the daily reality of a minority proud of its identity but not arrogant, aware that, while never failing to preach the Gospel, the result does not depend on its will because – as Saint Paul reminds us in the Second Letter to the Thessalonians – “faith is not everyone’s” (2 Thess 3:2). In a situation of pluralism, the Church must not and does not want to be a pressure group because its place in society is that of interlocutor, not of regent, and because, as Benedict XVI recalled, «the Church does not intend to claim for itself no privilege…, does not want to impose a perspective of faith on non-believers”, but places itself, together with them, at the service of man” (E. Bianchi).

Cardinal Martini stated: “I am struck by Jesus’ question: «When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith?». He does not ask: “Will I find a large and well-organized Church?”. He also knows how to appreciate a small and modest Church, which has a firm faith and acts accordingly. We must not depend on numbers and successes. We will be much freer to follow Jesus’ call.”

“In a Church that is no longer in a position of strength in society, the Christian finds the possibility of a freer proposal and a more convincing testimony: what needs to be said is said; you express what you believe you should express. We are no longer suspected a priori of wanting to dictate law in society, of imposing a “moral magisterium”. Being a prophet today can mean having the freedom to be a critical instance, considering with detachment the current seductions (individual,

comfort, safety…). But precisely because society is pluralist, the religious vision must present itself as a proposal, enter into dialogue with other visions of reality” (B. Chenu).

A beautiful life

Often the Church seems more concerned with announcing ethical values than with proclaiming the happiness of Christ’s Resurrection. Yet the Church’s mission is to tell the world that “no one makes us happier than God” (St. Augustine), and that in Christ sin, suffering, illness, all anguish, and death itself have been defeated.

Jesus had already said: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works («kalà érga»!) and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:16). Peter also invites: “Let your conduct among the pagans be irreproachable, so that while they slander you as evildoers, when they see your beautiful works («kalòn ergòn») they may come to glorify God on the day of judgement” (1 Pt 2,12). He too uses not the adjective “good”, “agathòs”, but “beautiful”, “kalòs”: men must see our “beautiful” works, be attracted by the beauty of our life!

All men should always see the Church as the place where “full joy” flows (Jn 15.11), a community of happy people, who have found the meaning of life and death, who sing the praises of their Lord, filled with his love.

Only in this way can the “little flock” (Lk 12.32) be “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” (Mt 5.13-16).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at migliettacarlo@gmail.com.

Source

Spazio Spadoni

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