Matthew 5: 13 – 16
In this Gospel Jesus uses very common images to teach the basic characteristic of being his follower; salt and light. He uses these in the present tense telling those gathered that they are the salt of the earth, and they are the light of the world. This is not something they should work to achieve, but should work to maintain. The followers of Jesus season and brighten their lives and the world. The teaching of Jesus is for them not to let this diminish or they risk becoming flat and dark.
Over the years I have seen the lives of people changed when they personally encountered the Lord. I have seen people who thought they were “good” Catholics and were fulfilling the minimum requirements turn into people whose faith became so alive and filled with joy when their relationship with the Lord truly became a love relationship. They experienced the love of God in a way they had not before and that love transformed and deepened their faith in such a manner that it emanated from them. 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.
How can we go about becoming more seasoning and a brighter light for those around us? First of all It would be a mistake for us to strive to be salt and light so that others may see Christ in us. Becoming and growing as salt and light comes from our 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.
The Prophet Isaiah tells us of some very specific attitudes and actions that take place when the light of the Lord is within us. We become more aware of the needs of those around us and more desirous of doing something about them, and he gives us a list somewhat similar to the corporal works of mercy. This then leads us to more awareness of the attitudes within us that are not God-like. We will work to remove oppression, false accusations and malicious speech. With this inner transformation the light will shine so brightly within us that the darkest gloom will seem like high noon.
The Winter doldrums and Post Christmas blues are presently affecting many people in various ways, and New Year’s resolutions are slipping away. This Gospel is a good one for those who are feeling the blues, as well as those who have grown complacent in living our faith. As followers of Jesus we can rightly claim that he is telling us that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We are salt and light. I think that it is something special for Christ to tell us this. He sees the faith within our souls, the love within our hearts, and our desire to grow closer to him. We are reminded who we are, and can bask in the compliment. We are also cautioned not to let the light grow dim or the salt insipid. Life would be so bland and dark without salt and light. May we focus on the compliment of who we are in the eyes of God, and continue to grow in our relationship with God so that we will become brighter lights and more savory seasoning.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.