Light of the World

Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch

In His Sermon on the Mount, Christ declared to His disciples: “Ye are the light of the world” (Matt 5:14a). Let us hear how several Catholic exegetes interpret this empowering statement:

“By their word of doctrine they are the light by which the ignorant are enlightened.” -Gloss

“It is the nature of a light to emit its rays whithersoever it is carried about, and when brought into a house to dispel the darkness of that house. Thus the world, placed beyond the pale of the knowledge of God, was held in the darkness of ignorance, till the light of knowledge was brought to it by the Apostles, and thenceforward the knowledge of God shone bright, and from their small bodies, whithersoever they went about, light is ministered to the darkness.” -St. Hilary of Poitiers

“As the sun sends forth his beams, so the Lord, the Sun of righteousness, sent forth his Apostles to dispel the night of the human race.” -Remigius of Auxerre

“To live well must go before to teach well; hence after He had called the Apostles ‘the salt,’ He goes on to call them ‘the light of the world.'” -Pseudo-Chrysostom

“By the world here we must not understand heaven and earth, but the men who are in the world; or those who love the world for whose enlightenment the Apostles were sent.” -St. Augustine

“Salt preserves a thing in its present state that it should not change for the worse, . . . light brings it into a better state by enlightening it; therefore the Apostles were first called salt with respect to the Jews and that Christian body which had the knowledge of God, and which they keep in that knowledge; and now light with respect to the Gentiles whom they bring to the light of that knowledge.” -Pseudo-Chrysostom

Quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. I, Part I (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841).

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