Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ
On this day, the 4th Sunday after Easter, the church commemorates the relevant mission of the church. Mission comes from the latin word missum which when translated to English means sent. Ever since the great commission of our Lord Jesus Christ, the church has been entrusted with this responsibility to showcase and spread the teaching of our Lord throughout all nations regardless whether they are Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, literate or illiterate, the responsibility that comes to us as believers of this faith resounds not in our ability to stand out as an unique sect of people who have been endowed with this Godly grace and honor that originated from the birth, life, crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of our Lord and Savior, but in the propagation of these very ideas that makes us stand out as Christians. Throughout ages, the church grew despite all opposition both external and internal, unity and divisions, theological ramifications and spiritual nonsense because the propagation of ideas originated from the very teachings of Christ showcased a simple teaching of love faith and hope, a way of life and not a religion which would have made it difficult in the first place. This very ability of Christ to incorporate hope in things unseen, the belief in life for all the goodness that it could offer to all men to be part of this vast kingdom where all men despite their caste, color, creed and all divisions that separate them could be considered at the same time equal is the very teaching that we as Christians are required to make known to those haven’t yet heard, felt it in the first place.
When we look at the teachings of Christ, from the very parables to the miracles he has performed and sermons, they all seems to be building a skeleton of ideas, thoughts that point to a mission. Just like Christ’s life on earth was a mission from God to his children that salvation has at last come home, its become personal to one and all, Jesus dint want the zeal of his teaching die with him on the cross, but instead be vindicated and reflected out to all nations through his resurrection. From his selection of people as his disciples his ulterior aim was in the continuation and the fulfillment of his very purpose on the earth that became his mission. The transformative journey of Jesus from being the son of a carpenter to a rabbi taking the downtrodden of the society who ranged from fishermen to much despised tax collectors in his stead would have undermined his credibility to no end, but the message made all the difference. Here we had unlikely people in the form of fishermen performing miracles, speaking in flowing language about whatever little or big that they believed from his teaching, weathering stringent opposition wherever they went but their passion to do what they believed in, their lack of hesitance to become ultimate martyrs for whatever they believed in ensured that the teaching spread, the mission grew and the church flourished. Those teachings were so powerful that the Christian church came to dominate the world in a way like no religion or empire could ever do so. It was said that Constantinople was so alarmed by the way the church grew, he had to politically absolve the Roman Empire as a Christian empire. Though the purpose of the teachings lost its sheen later on, the mission to us Christians still remain today. Strong, powerful and simple. It has morphed into something even bigger than the Great Commission or church building or conversions; it has become today a question of sustainability (when we have a dwindling church that has lost its social responsibility, inability rehabilitate its own) , a question of introspection (when false teachings, misguided ideologies threatening its very core ) or to be more exact, the ability of the salt not to lose it saltiness and that of the light to still glow and more as we Marthomites would love to say rather than believe lighted to lighten.
The epistle reading for today is very prominent with almost the hundreds of sermons that I have heard so far. This very portion (Mathew 5:13-20) has intrigued teachers from time immemorial with regards to its meaning. From the many interpretations that I have read about salt and light, I feel that it’s a timely example that illustrates the ability of absorption, cleansing and preservation; 2 Kings 2:19-25, prophet Elisha uses salt to clean the spring of Jericho, that is to absorb the very dirt, in Ezekial 16:4 the salt was used to cleanse and harden the skin of a new born child; in Leviticus 2:13 ‘Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. Salt here is used for cleansing, a covenant and preserving. In Mathew 5:13, salt refers to the wisdom. All these are very important in life of a Christian that is to absorb knowledge from church, Sunday school or the various vital organs of the church, cleanse ourselves from all that plague us and preserve ourselves as good human beings and carrier of good deeds.
Being the light of the world is also as important the former. When we renew ourselves, possesses all the goodness that originates from the teaching of Christ, reflection begins which is necessary. When Jesus said about being the salt of the earth and light of the world, he meant the very idea of renewal. The very idea that spins offs itself powerful from an equally important earlier message of his of being born again. Hence these teachings of Christ provide an ideal nucleus from where the idea of mission originates.
On this day, let’s look back into our situation. In a world that is so changing and unpredictable where our church is now attains paramount importance. The earlier church was built on the very ideas of social equality, the teachings of Christ removed all that was indifferent between men at that time because when Jesus and his disciples sat with the teachers of Law to eat from the same table, all divisions disappeared into the thin air and there began an era of equalness where men were treated equal. The early church built on this very idea, as it grew, lost in the process and now as we see stagnated. It was the church losing its saltiness and it grew into a position where as reported in an article by the TIME magazine not so far ago, Jesus became the biggest liability to the church. The ability of the church to be light itself diminished as the church lost its purpose and sense of being to be a beacon to the world. Today, more than ever Marthoma church built on the principles of reformation and hope faces challenges both outside and within. The church struggles to maintain its identity in the view of diminishing cultural and social values within its diasporas spread worldwide, the arise of false teachings and misguided ideologies that arise from economic statutes of capitalization and globalization, a period of retrospection is now needed. We need to renew ourselves to these ever growing challenges and our ability to reinvent and sustain our saltiness is vital in our fulfillment of our stance to lighten those people whom we are responsible for thereby ensuring that our mission and its purpose remains strong, guided and powerful.