Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:13-16
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lamp stand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”
As followers of Christ, Jesus is calling each of us; as His disciples; to be the ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘the light of the world.’ What exactly is He asking His followers to be? Well, during ancient times salt was a very valuable commodity. It was even used as money, and then, it was widely used to barter and trade because of its high demand. And due to its ability to draw moisture out of meats and to seal the meat from bacteria and oxygen, it was used in food preservation methods. Another use that is still important today is its use as a flavoring. Foods just taste better with salt as it actually has the ability to pull the flavors out of the food, thus making it more palatable.
Salt was also used as a purifying agent in several religious ceremonies. As part of the rite in blessing holy water, the priest sprinkles salt into the water when blessing it. And did you know, that blessed salt can be used to sprinkle around your home to ward off danger from storms and from evil? We can see from its many uses that salt is necessary for human survival. Without salt, as without Jesus, mankind could not survive.
Another interesting fact about salt is how it was widely used in Biblical times as a fuel for cooking food. Many people in Jerusalem did not have their own oven for baking, instead they often relied on a large communal oven that all the villagers shared. One of the common fuels for these ovens was camel or ox dung. Due to salt’s catalytic nature, the people often mixed salt into the dung to make it burn better, to make it burn longer. But if salt was exposed to the elements it would lose it catalytic abilities and the useless salt would be flung onto the ground, and trampled underfoot.
It is as if, Jesus is telling His disciples that if they want to be true disciples of His, they need to improve the tone of society…they need to season it…to preserve the faith that He has given them. He wants the disciples to extend the fire of the Holy Spirit through their evangelization efforts, He wants them to be the salt that sets the earth ablaze, and not to become useless and cast onto the ground like salt that is spent.
In addition to being salt, Jesus called His disciples to be the light of the world. We know that He wanted them to use the light that He filled them with…the Holy Spirit that washed over them … and spread it throughout the lands. He wanted to dispel the darkness that was filling mankind due to their sinfulness and separation from God. He was born to save us from the darkness that was death. He was telling His disciples that they needed to be like a city on a hill…and not hide the faith they now possessed…they had to have a faith that demonstrated itself with actions….because faith without works is dead…
As Catholics we are all infused with the Holy Spirit at our baptisms. We are all carrying the light of Christ within our souls…those flickering…embers of His love….just waiting for our response…just waiting for our will to join with His, and become like the salt that fueled the flames when Jesus spoke. We have the light that is Christ…we have the capacity to set the world on fire, and keep it going…but do we…have the will, to do His Will, and glorify God with our life?