“You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world.”
My Dear Family in Christ,
Why does Jesus call us ‘salt’ and ‘light’, and what does this tell us about the effect we as Christians ought to have on the world around us?
Here are 5 things to think about in light of this Sunday’s Gospel:
For the Sake of Something Other Than Themselves
Salt and light, in and of themselves, don’t serve a purpose. Simply eating salt or staring at light isn’t generally good for you. The goodness of salt is revealed when it is used to add flavour to or preserve food, or even to disinfect a wound or a sore throat. The purpose of light is revealed when it is shone upon something, like a beautiful piece of art or a book we are trying to read. Similarly, it is only when we use our God-given gifts for others that our own goodness is most revealed.
Before the invention of refrigeration, salt was worth almost ass much as gold. One was said to be ‘worth his salt’ much in the same way that we might say one is ‘worth their weight in gold.’ Salt made possible the stockpiling of food by preserving it and preventing bacteria from spoiling things like meat and fish. The Christian rejects only what is evil in the world, but preserves and even elevates its goodness through the Gospel.
3. Bringing Out the Best… and the Worst
Consider a bowl of soup, or a boiled egg; some salt can turn an otherwise unpleasant dish into something delightful. It does this, not by overpowering or concealing their unique flavour, but rather by highlighting them and bringing them out. Light, for its part, illuminates the beauty of its subject- but it also reveals certain flaws, like fingerprints on a windowpane. Similarly, we Christians ought to bring out the best in others, while also illuminating the need for repentance(starting with ourselves).
4. Just a Pinch
When it comes to salt, you don’t need much. A dark room doesn’t need much more than a few candles to be lit up. As Christians, we need not be concerned if we find ourselves in the minority, even drastically so. The Church will always prefer quality to quantity, and we rely on the Holy Spirit to multiply our most humble efforts.
‘A light has shone forth in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ In the words of the great St. Francis, “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” The reality of light, and the ‘non-reality’ of darkness is a powerful reminder that no matter how great the evil in the world, it cannot overpower a single act of charity, humility, or mercy. May we courageously let our own humble light shine in the darkest of places and times.
There you have it; a few thoughts on the mystery of salt and light, as you reflect upon this Sunday’s Gospel. Always remember, if we are to be salt, our ‘saltiness’ comes from Jesus. If we are to be light, we only shine to the extent that we radiate His light.
God love you,