Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Salt and Light
Points to note
This continuation of the Sermon on the Mount is very vivid. Salt and light are very common everyday items. It is therefore very easy to use them in the sessions. You may wish to concentrate on one or the other, or you may attempt both.
If you plan to use salt, do not use too much as it is not healthy. It is not healthy on the children if they try to taste too much of it. It is also not healthy for your back if you have to vacuum it up from the carpet.
If you do use light in the sessions, it is important to keep the silence in the group. There is nothing more mystifying than staring silently into a lit candle in the middle of a darkened room.
Unless you have a very well behaved bunch, it is therefore not advisable to start the session in darkness and read from the candle: some children in darkness are notoriously prone to mischief. Also, only attempt this with older children as some of the younger may have a fear of darkness.
Acclamation before the Gospel
I am the light of the world, says the Lord,
Anyone who follows me will have the light of life.
Explain that we are still with the Sermon on the Mount.
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with your spirit.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
All: Glory to you O Lord
(Mt 5: 13-16)
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one light a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on a lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven.”
This is the Word of the Lord
As a game, try blindfolding some children and letting them smell or taste some salt. Can they identify what it is?
What is salt like? Where does it come from? Some are mined underground, but more commonly, it is harvested from the sea. The Dead Sea, the lake River Jordan runs into, is very salty and produces a lot of salt. When salt is harvested from the sea in this way, it glisten white in the sun. The ancients therefore make it a symbol of purity.
What can we use it for? To give flavouring; to preserve food (like bacon or salted fish), especially food that is good to keep.
Jesus called us the salt of the world. What does he mean by that? We are called to be pure as salt is pure. We are called to give a different flavour to the earth: we will make a difference to this world. We are called to be preservatives and to preserve all that is good to preserve. You may wish to discuss how the church has preserved our faith for two thousand years.
Have the room in darkness. Make sure that none of the children has a fear of the dark!! Try lighting the candle. Make it difficult to light the candle and succeed after several attempts. When the candle is lit, explain that the houses that Jesus’ friends lived in were normally very dark as there were few windows. Also in those days before matches, fires were very difficult to kindle and light.
Discuss how important were light to people in those days. What would people do to the light they have lit? Have it on a high point in the room so that the light can be seen by all. A light that is hidden is absolutely useless.
Jesus called us the light of the world. What did he mean by that? Jesus called himself the true light. If we are to follow him, we too must be light like he was. Just as light is used to guide the way, we are called to guide the way for others to follow Jesus. Notice the way the candle burns itself out to give light. Just as Jesus died on the cross to show us the way to heaven, we too are sometimes called to make sacrifices in Jesus’ name.
Also notice that when there is a light in a darkened room, there is no part of the room that has no light. Even if there is only a tiny bit of light there is still light. And your eyes will eventually adjust to the darkness anyway. Light will always banish darkness. So, no matter how bleak the future looks, the faith and hope that Jesus brings into the world through our love will enlightened the bleakness in the world.