Matthew 5: 13 – 16
The Christmas Season ended a month ago with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The gift of Christmas is always with us, the presence of Jesus in our world and in our lives. Jesus is the light of the world and when we allow his light into our lives any darkness that might dim our vision or stifle our zeal can be taken away. The light of Christ is powerful and is something we should call upon throughout the year and all our lives to illuminate our way. In the Gospel for this Sunday Jesus uses this image of light to teach us that this is also a characteristic to be found in us. We are to be the light of the world. Not only is Christ the light of the world that shines for us, we have the privilege and call to allow this light to shine through us to make each of us a light for the world.
In the Gospel Jesus includes salt with light as images to teach the basic characteristic of being his follower; salt and light. These are characteristics we should not only work to achieve but should work to maintain. The followers of Jesus season and brighten the lives of those around them. The teaching of Jesus is not to let this diminish or we risk becoming flat and dark, but rather to shine brightly and season generously.
Walking in darkness can fill us with fear and uncertainty, eating food without salt can be an experience of blandness. When my brothers and I were growing up there was a widow in our neighborhood whose husband died some years earlier from heart disease. The doctor instructed her that he should avoid salt and she removed salt from all her recipes. My brothers and I would help her with regular chores in her yard and regularly she would bake a cake for us as a way of saying thanks. The problem was is that the cakes had no salt. They looked beautiful but had no taste. One of my brothers was into weightlifting and health food and made the comment to my mother as he refused to try a piece, “the ratio of the beautiful appearance to the lack of taste, does not warrant me eating these calories.” In our life things might appear to be wonderful while in reality there is a darkness and insipidness within us. The light and salt of Jesus can overcome the fear and blandness that can so easily contaminate our faith lives. Our call is to continue to walk in the light of Christ and to grow in the seasoning of salt in our lives as well as to be salt and light to others.
Becoming salt and light comes from a longing to have a deeper relationship with God. When our lives become Christ centered we become more seasoned and brighter within. Christ’s presence becomes so strong within that those around us are affected by our very presence. Our words, our actions, and our presence itself reflects the presence of God in our lives. I have seen the lives of people changed when they personally encountered the Lord. People who thought they were “good” Catholics by fulfilling the minimum requirements became alive and filled with joy when their relationship with the Lord became a love relationship. They experienced the love of God in a way they had not before, and that love transformed their faith that their presence in a room or gathering transformed it because they seasoned and brightened it with God’s presence. This, Jesus tells us, should be the norm for his followers.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.