- Matt 5:13-16
- The Similes of Salt and Light
Keith Miller in his book, Habitation of Dragons, said: “All of the promoted programs and Christian education plans in the world will be virtually worthless to motivate people to become Christians unless they see some ordinary person… finding hope and a new way to live in Christ. And then they will listen,” (p. 103).
Today’s gospel reading is part of the Sermon on the Mount. In this passage, Jesus reveals what His disciples are called to be: “Salt of the earth” and “Light of the World.” He then says that salt would be useless if it were to lose its taste. What does Jesus mean by calling us, salt?
Salt if it rubs in a wound, the wound becomes painful. But all of us know the use of salt as a table condiment. It gives taste to tasteless food. In ancient times, salt had an even more important use. It was necessary to preserve food from decaying. The Spanish word for salt is sal. And so, ‘salt’ is at the root of the words: sauce, salad, salsa, salami. And even in ancient Rome, soldiers were paid in salt or a salarium or salary.
In other words, our Christian presence in the world can be compared to a salt that gives taste and preserves food from decay. It is because if we are true Christians, we are the best propaganda capable of inciting other people to become Christians in turn, because only changed lives can convince others that Christianity works. But if food is over-salted, it tastes horrible. In other words no matter how good our intentions might be, if we come on too strong, we do more harm than good.
We, Christians have to cultivate Christian life and spirituality in our surroundings. And so therefore we are called to do two things as salt of the earth:
First, we are called to be witnesses of faith like the first Christians. St Augustine said: “Everyone, therefore, who obscures and covers up the light of good doctrine by means of temporal comforts, places his candle under a bushel measure.” There are four things S. Briscoe (Getting Into God, p. 92) suggested that we should do if we are called to be witnesses of faith:
- Care or show concern for the person and concern for your life before him.
- Dare or it takes courage to witness; courage if the person is a stranger to you and even more if the person is a close friend or relative.
- Share or if you want to make a lasting impression, share yourself with the person. Get involved in his interests, get your shoulder under his burden and be genuinely glad when he has a success.
- Prayer or don’t discount the effectiveness of prayer in the preparation of people’s hearts for the Good News.
Second, we are called to do apostolate, a work that is part and parcel of being Christian. Every Christian has to strive not only for personal holiness but has to seek the sanctification of others. Just like the salt that preserves food from corruption and brings out its taste to food. The Christian should do the same among the people around him or her. It is because through baptism and confirmation all are appointed to this apostolate by the Lord himself. Lay people especially are called to make the Church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it is only through them that she can become the salt of the earth. Thus, every lay person, through those gifts given to him, is at once the witness and the living instrument of the mission of the Church itself “according to the measure of Christ´s bestowal,” (Lumen Gentium no. 33).
You and I are called to be saints.