Light Given Freely and Publicly

Epiphany 5 Tuesday

Matthew 5:14-15

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill may not be hidden. Also, people do not light a lamp and place it under a bushel, but on a stand; then it gives light to all in the house.”

This is the other part of the office Christ imposes on the dear apostles: They are to be called, and be, a “light of the world.” That is to say, they are to instruct souls and direct them to eternal life. By these words Christ subjects the entire world to the apostles so that it should and must be enlightened by them, concluding that the entire world, including everything it is capable of, is nothing but darkness and blindness. For if the world already had a light to enlighten it (as it
thinks), what need was there for Christ to send the apostles?…But here Master Pope comes along with his churchly masks as those who want to be called the representatives of Christ and the apostles and who are permitted to master Christ’s Word and make the apostles step down by raving: “It is not enough that the apostles preached and the Holy
Spirit spread his light through them. Rather, people must hear and keep the laws of the holy fathers, church councils, and popes as those who taught things above and beyond what the apostles said.” But we are to know that Christ is not such an illusionist who speaks in incomplete words. Rather, because he calls the apostles the light of the world, their doctrine alone must be valid and sufficient to enlighten the whole world, so that everything outside their doctrine remains utter darkness…For when the pope and his followers are at their best, they rebuke the coarse, outward sins that have already been rebuked by the secular law and the light of reason. But the central issues–e.g., unbelief, false holiness–they never notice; in fact, they themselves are completely stuck in them. This is why their doctrine is completely nonsensical and also darkness and blindness; they are unable to look, salt, or enlighten beyond whether to eat meat or fish or how to dress and act. This is why it is and remains the apostle’s office alone both to rebuke properly the true inward vices and to heal, comfort, and lift up all poor saddened consciences, leaving no one unrebuked in what is evil and uninstructed and not lifted up toward what is good. This is also why Christ here installs and consecrates them to be preachers so that they alone should be and must be heard, admitting no other sectarian spirits, introduced by the devil, who also want to be salt and light, who, in fact, also want to teach even Christ himself a lesson, screaming: “Teaching about faith is worthless; people ought to take the high road and go about it differently by suffering and being crucified.” This, properly considered, is nothing but teaching about our own works and does not even get to showing unbelief and rebuking the splendid vices that are hidden in the very doctrine by which they declare themselves to be the salt and light of the world…Christ does not want such an office to be exercised secretly or in one place, but publicly, throughout the whole world…He wants to say: “If you want to be my preachers, you must be well prepared to step out into the public and to stand before the world, as if you were on a high mountain, so that you are confident when people
look and listen to you in public, when you do not keep secret any thing you are to preach, when you do not play favorites in your speaking. But as you are the light, give light freely and publicly, regardless of honor or shame, riches or poverty, hatred or favor, death or life, knowing that you serve me who installed you to be a light.”

St. Louis ed., 7:414-417.

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