Sermon by Gerhard Weissenbrunner
Matthew 5, 13-20 and 1. Letter of Corinthians 2, 1-12. – Salt of the earth, light of the world…
You are the salt of the earth! You are the light of the world…
This is how Jesus describes his listeners. This is how Jesus puts his disciples on the curtain. What happiness and at the same time what a challenge?
“When Jesus saw the crowd, he climbed a mountain. He sat down, his disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach. (Mt.5, 1-2)“ And Jesus told them who will be happy in his life. Namely, those who don’t pretend to God – who are gentle with one another – who have a desire for justice – who are merciful – who make peace – etc. Whoever does this will, lead a happy life.
And after the beatitudes, Jesus called his disciples “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”. Mind you, not his listeners, but his successors. Those who hear his words, record them and act accordingly. At the same time, Jesus issues a loss warning. Be careful not to lose strength in your actions. Make sure that you stay edible. Spreads a good taste.
The comparison with the “salt” is correct. If Hilde is not at home, I have to prepare food for myself. Then there is (what else?) Spaghetti! I had enough opportunities to find the right amount of salt. Once it was too little. Then the food tasted bland. Once it was too much. Then the food was inedible. In the meantime I meet the right amount of salt, mostly.
When eating, we appreciate the importance of salt and pay attention to the amount. So we should also make sure that our dealings with each other spread a good taste.
The comparison with the “light” also hits. The light of God’s love shines in our hearts. It illuminates our innermost. It changes us. We know we are beloved children of God through our belief in Jesus. Through Jesus Christ we live in relationship with God and God’s Spirit testifies to our Spirit that we are His children. And the connection with God lets us speak, call, whisper, think: “Abba, father! My lord and my god! (Röm. 8,15).”
The love of God should be visible to us. It is incompatible with grouchiness. Not even with behavior that does not serve the glory of God. But it is compatible with behavior as described in the Song of Love (1 Cor. 13: 4-6): “Love is patient, love is kind. She knows no jealousy, she does not act out, she is not conceited. It does not behave tactlessly, it does not seek its own advantage, it does not lose control, it does not bear anything. She is not happy when wrong happens, but where the truth prevails, she is happy too.“
When I read this text for the first time, many years ago, I was very touched by the prosaic beauty of Chapter
13. However, the content made me feel small and sad. I had understood it as an impossible requirement for me. Today I read the text as a gift from God’s grace. In life with Christ this love becomes a force that pushes outwards and becomes visible. Not out of me, but out of the power of the Holy Spirit that works in us. Like a leaven leavening the dough, love changes the person and their environment. It is fascinating to see how a little sourdough leaks a whole dough. Lactic acid bacteria and yeast keep it in fermentation and promote this process. So it is God’s love that changes this world.
Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a leaven (Matt. 13:33): “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds[b] of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
The Pharisees asked Jesus (Luke 17: 20-21) when the kingdom of God would come. He replied: “The kingdom of God does not come in such a way that it can be recognized by external signs. Nor will it be possible to say: “See, here it is!” Or: “It is there!” No, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.“ What people cannot know of their own accord and which even these Pharisees, as servants and connoisseurs of the Jewish laws, have not yet recognized is already there. The Kingdom of God is present in this whole world! – Currently in and through Jesus Christ. God has manifested himself in Jesus of Nazareth. The kingdom of God can be seen and experienced in Jesus‘ life, death and resurrection.
For many, even for some who call themselves Christians, the crucified Christ is incomprehensible. They think that Christ did not have to die on the cross for them. Nor do some understand what Christ’s resurrection should mean for them and the world. And you can’t deny them wisdom and intelligence. On the contrary, I know some who struggle hard for sociality and humanity, according to their possibilities. And yet they don’t understand God in this way. Why this?
I answer with Paul: “Behind God’s seemingly absurd action there is a wisdom that surpasses all human wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:25) and “for many, the message of the cross is something completely nonsensical. But for us it is the epitome of God’s power (1 Cor. 1:18).”
The message Paul proclaimed to the people of Corinth should not be based on polished rhetoric and subtle arguments. He wanted to draw their attention solely to Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ, the crucified. Because their belief should not be based on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
The same mindset is good advice for us too. We do not need to exaggerate ourselves because we know what the Kingdom of God means, so to speak. We do not need to explain the right direction for our lives to our fellow human beings (they hear that enough from managers and politicians). On the contrary! We should be aware of our weakness so that God’s power can be shown to the full. Jesus Christ is the center of our preaching. Jesus, the crucified and the resurrected.
Not the rulers, emperors and kings have been raised from death. Not Genghis Khan, not Alexander the Great, not Napoleon have overcome death. Likewise, the current governors, the princes in the corporations, the money magnates and the generals will not be able to avoid death.
But it happened to the man from Nazareth, Jesus, the Christ. He is the first, the risen one. And he promised the lovers and the nonviolent that they would keep the earth as property.
Whoever it may happen: where a friendly word is spoken – where a loving deed is done – where strife turns into peace and injustice into justice – where reconciliation happens – wherever such happens, there is an act of resurrection! The new world is visible! There heaven and earth combine! See, the old has passed, new has become.
»We hear of a muslim woman who had served as a medium in spiritist sessions. When she heard about Jesus and put her trust in him, she was released from these powers. One thing kept surprising her: that Christians don’t know what authority they have. She said that as a medium she could see from afar who was Christian and who was not. She could see a light above the heads of Christians that showed her that there was greater authority here than her dark power. She could not believe that many Christians did not know about this light and the power that made demonic powers tremble. Jesus, who lives in us through faith, gives us this authority.
It is not our strength, but Jesus Himself who makes us strong. He is the light of the world. We should not put this light under the bushel. That is our contribution to it. Not more.” Jesus appeals to his believers: “You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world! Live my message with me. This is how your light should shine in front of people: they should see your good works and praise your Father in heaven. “