Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Something beautiful

Gospel set for Morning Prayer today: Matthew 5:13-20

Here, Jesus describes what the community of God’s chosen people should be like in the world, using the accessible metaphors of salt and light. Moreover, these sayings contrast being ‘no longer good’ with ‘your good works’. However, the repeated word ‘good’ in the English translates two different words in the Greek.

In the first instance, the word is ischuo, to have strength, power, potency, to prevail. In the second instance, the word is kalos, beautiful, the beauty that flows from noble, worthy and honourable character.

In other words, beauty has a potency in the world, to transform the world. And this beauty flows from godly character, and points to God. It is contrasted with ‘turning to foolishness’—moraino (mo-rah-ee-no)—the literal meaning of the salt ‘losing its taste’.

One way, then, we should measure the impact of what we do in the world is to ask, is the outcome something beautiful?

When the stranger is welcomed, the hungry are fed, the lonely find company; where human dignity is recognised, and, if necessary, restored; the beauty is in the outcome, in those moments of connection that result in the creation of something that was not there before, as nobility meets nobility, worth meets worth, honour meets honour.

(With thanks to clergy colleagues who helped me expand my thoughts, as we reflected on this passage this morning.)

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