Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16bc

Tuesday, 09 June 2020

1 Kings 17:7–16; Psalm 4:2–5, 7b–8; Matthew 5:13–16.

Jesus uses three metaphors in today’s Gospel. He talks of salt, light and a city on the hill. We know that salt does not exist for itself, but to season things; light does not exist for itself, but to brighten its surroundings; and the city on a hill is constructed to be a visible orientation point for others. Each of these examples, when used well, has the potential to give something to someone else. This theme of generous giving, which was self-evident to Jesus, is echoed in the trust in God from the first reading: where the ‘jar of meal’ and ‘jug of oil’ could not be emptied through the generosity of the Widow of Zarephath.

But these examples are double-edged. Jesus knew that there might come a time when we might lose our distinctive taste and vision of and for the world, and so produce unappetizing fruits; fruits that repelled, hiding rather than attracting, others. Without a focus on prayer, i.e. on a relationship with God, and a living of the Beatitudes, one’s Christian life might well appear flat to our community, and even those in society might suspect our emptiness and so trample us underfoot, finding nothing attractive in our faith that might recommend itself to them.

Christ never let his light and wisdom shine forth from his own centre. Instead he always pointed to the Father. As Christians we must always be inwardly aware that everything we are able to give, comes from God for the benefit of others: We pray “Your name be glorified, your will be done.” Everyone who prays this way, learns that he or she must shine forth as a whole. In remembering that we are salt and light for the world, we can remember the love and knowledge that each person exists ultimately for the other and knows nothing of “being-for-oneself”.


teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I do your will.


Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Whilst working at the Institute, Matthew managed the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and was involved in the Spirituality work, completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and the Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and was also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa. He is currently the Director of Communications for the Jesuits in Southern Africa, based in Lusaka, Zambia.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
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