Today’s parables of salt and light lie at the heels of the Beatitudes. Jesus preached His blessings as a definition for the disciple, one who was counter-cultural, virtuous, and persecuted. The readings remind us that the Beatitudes must not only be lived but seen to be lived. It is essential for the Christian disciple both to be seen and heard. Christianity is not a private religion. I am not just a Christian for me only. I am called to change the world.
Jesus is the Light of the World; He is the Salt of the Earth. It was Jesus who gave men the knowledge of the true nature of God, as shown by the Incarnation. He gave this life its flavor, its meaning, its preservation. By His death and resurrection, He took away the sting of death with a promise of our resurrection to eternal life. In calling His disciples to be salt and light, He is giving us the honor and distinction of being His presence in the world.
Jesus charges each of His followers to be the kind of person in whom others could taste and see the goodness of the Lord. In other words, Jesus called His own to live in such a way that others could come to a personal knowledge and experience of the saving presence of God in their lives.
There is nothing more useful than sunlight and salt. Without a careful balance of salt and light, living things cannot function, develop, or grow. Salt is a basic and essential item in our diet, but it had a particular value in ancient culture. Salt is a purifier, a seasoning, and a preservative. Christians, by their Gospel-centered lives, will give a distinctive taste to society. Those who live the spirit of the Beatitudes will permeate the world, renew it, and reverse its social and moral decay.
When Jesus speaks of light, He emphasizes how it must stand out, like on a mountain top not hidden under a basket. What is the point in getting baptized, joining the Christian community, and then becoming completely invisible to others, especially to those who are not Christians? To whom much is given, much is expected. A Sacrament is not a piece of paper to be placed in a drawer. It is God’s interaction in our life that transforms us through grace into the person He created us to be. It is a gift that we have accepted and must act upon.
We will encounter disagreement, persecution and at times hatred. Those who live in darkness, fear the light, for they do not want their actions to be seen. But we do not fear the darkness for light always overcomes the dark. The message of Christ, spoken and lived with love, transforms the hearts and lives of others.
Today as much as ever, we the faithful find ourselves in conflict with our culture. However, we must cling to the source of truth, Jesus. We are called and equipped to light the way, to lead others back to the path that leads to eternal life. Life on earth is short. The demands of our Christian life may not always be easy, but we know that if we live up to them, we are Christ’s presence in the world. We are continuing His great work by our own good example to our neighbor, we are giving glory to God, and are earning for ourselves the eternal light of heaven.
So, today how will I be salt and light to others?