5th Sunday in OTA

Is 58:7-10   I Cor 2:1-5 Mt 5:13-16

“A Peanuts cartoon, showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown. She said, “Guess what, Chuck. The first day of school, and I got sent to the principal’s office. It was your fault, Chuck.” He said, “My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?” She said, “You’re my friend, aren’t you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me.”

While Peppermint Patty was seeking to pass the buck, she was in a very real sense right. We should be a good influence on our friends. We certainly do have an influence, for good or for bad.” “Stop or my mum will shoot,” an action video, was watched by a six-year-old girl who then accidentally shot her grandfather dead with his revolver as she copied a scene from the film (reported in the Daily Telegraph on May 18th 1995).

Who makes great influence on children and teenagers? Much more than parents, and family members, it is media TVs, internet, video games, magazines etc. Two thirds of the public believe that violence on television is directly linked to anti-social behavior among children. If a child watches TV for three hours a day by the age of thirteen that child will have seen 8,000 murders and over 100,000 other acts of violence (American Psychological Association). Do you think that people can watch violence on TV without being affected by it? It seems unlikely, doesn’t it? Leading authorities worldwide have confirmed that there is a link between viewing violence on TV and violent behavior.

That is just violence. But what about pornography? There is enormous circumstantial evidence linking pornography and crime. And that is just the TV. I am sure we could say the same about the Internet and magazines and newspapers.

In view of all these negative and evil influences the words of Jesus in our Gospel today have more relevance than ever. Jesus tells us we are the salt of the earth. What does salt do? Before the days of refrigerators salt was used as a preservative. So when Jesus tells us we are the salt of the earth he is asking us to preserve the world from becoming bad, to put it simply.

One of the ways in which we can act as salt preserving what is good and preventing evil is by curbing our viewing of TV. Why not make a decision to watch only healthy and uplifting material as family? I heard someone say our minds are like sponges. They can pick up dirt from all sorts of places. We can wash our minds as we wash sponges by filling our minds with what is positive and uplifting. Another way is to fill the media, TV, Magazines, Internet, Radio etc with good things that can inspire, guide people and children in the right direction.

Jesus said we are the light of the world and we are to put our light on the lamp stand so that everyone in the house can see it. So Jesus is saying not only does he want us to preserve the world from deteriorating but he wants us to influence the world positively, to shed light on the darkness of the world. The darkness caused by all the violence and sin on TV certainly needs the light of Christ.

You are the best person to shed light on those you meet. What we say and what we do allows the light of Jesus to shine or hides the light of Jesus. We can allow the light of Jesus to shine on those with whom we live, to shine on those with whom we work, and to shine on our parish community. Every parish has many examples of very good people who allow the light of Jesus to shine, people who have put their lamp on the lamp stand so that it shines for everyone in the house. As in the Gospel, seeing their good works we praise our Father in heaven for them. There are many unknown charitable acts which allow the light of Jesus to shine, neighbors helping neighbors, family members helping family members. Even though their good works are so often unknown we give praise to our Father in heaven. Those who shine the light of Christ on others by what they say or do are fulfilling the words of Isaiah in our first reading,

“Share your bread with the hungry,
And shelter the homeless poor,
Clothe the man you see to be naked
And turn not from your own kin.
Then will your light shine like the dawn….” (Isa 58:7-10)

You are the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world. Let us ask ourselves today, how much positive influence have we made as a person, as a family or as a member of the parish community?