10th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, June 8
2 Cor 1:18-22 / Matthew 5:13-16
God is trustworthy; He has sealed us.
Ancient peoples used to put a mark or a seal on their property. For example, shepherds branded the sheep in their flocks. Slave owners also put marks on their slaves.The Roman army followed a similar practice. It tattooed the hand or the forearm of recruits with an abbreviation of the name of the general under whom the recruits would serve. Writers like Clement of Alexander (ca. A.D. 200) urged Christians to use symbolic marks, like doves and fish. Paul has this "marking system" in mind when he says that God has "sealed us." In baptism, we were made God's property and given God's mark of ownership.
Do we act as though we belong to God? "We became 'the anointed ones' when we received the sign of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we ourselves are images of Christ." Jerusalem Catechesis (adapted)
What people expect from their leaders is that they are reliable - and they are right to expect this. Without reliability there can be no trust. That is what the Judaizing Christians accuse Paul of: He is fickle-minded. He had promised a visit to Corinth, and he changed his mind. From the vehemence of his defense we can see how seriously he took this accusation. It was a danger to his apostolic effectiveness. He quotes Jesus: Let your word be "yes, yes" or "no, no" and let people be clear about it. He cannot be double-tongued. The apostle must reflect in his life the fidelity of God. This is the Spirit of God. In this Spirit we are baptized and confirmed. In these sacraments God impressed in us his seal. By stamping a document, we pledge that it is official, that it states the truth, that it keeps what it promises. Paul uses the deepest insights into theology to impress on his readers: An apostle has to be reliable. He must reflect the fidelity of God.
During the communist regime in Poland, only a dozen or so Catholic secondary schools for girls remained under the direction of religious sisters. They had to follow the state program without any religion. When asked whether there was still any sense in their work, a sister directress answered: “We stay with the girls, we are a presence among them. If we try to be good Christians, we automatically let the light shine. Light is its own proof. One has not to talk about it.” Her words echo those of Christ in the Gospel. A Christian has not necessarily to preach from a pulpit. Authentic Christian living is a proclamation all by itself.
Jesus says: We are to be salt for the earth, light for the world. We Christians have a responsibility towards the world: not the whole wide world, but my little world. "My world" are the persons who know me and whom I not necessarily by name. To them I have to be salt and light. Salt changes the taste of food. It has to be added in the right proportion. Too much or too little makes the difference of good or bad. Light makes us see reality correctly. Light gives men a sense of security, just as darkness begets fear. Light is joy. So, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and praise not you, but the Father in heaven.
Lord our God, your Son asks of every disciple to be the salt and the light of the world. Season our lives and words with the salt of the Gospel, that all those who encounter us may taste how good it is to live in your love and to work in joy and hope towards a world and a heaven of justice, peace and friendship. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Lord. Amen