Several years ago, some very close friends gave Pam and I, a salt and pepper set in the shape of a couple embracing. With it was a card with a bible reference ‘Matthew 5:13’; the beginning of the Gospel used today. This inspired us to share a similar gift with other couples asking them to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
In the Gospel Jesus does not say ‘you used to be the salt of the earth’, or ‘you will be the salt of the earth’, He says ‘You are the salt of the earth. This is in the present tense; it has to be now. Within the same verse Jesus warns what happens if the salt loses its saltiness, it is thrown away and trodden under foot.
Salt has been used for centuries to cure and preserve meat and fish, it is also used to help bring out the flavour of the food. It is not used to make things taste salty [like itself]. It is made to enhance the flavour of the food it is used with. In the same way Jesus is calling us to bring out the best in those we encounter, not for our good but for their good.
Jesus continues by saying to His listeners [again in the present tense] ‘You are the light of the world.’ Here Jesus is identifying Himself with His followers, remembering the words in John 8:12 [When Jesus said I am the light of the world.] Jesus is calling His followers to take His light out into the world. To shine His light onto others so that when people recognise the good works we do, they may give glory to God. This call is for all of us and it is a call that again has to be responded to now.
Again, Jesus states what will happen if the light is hidden. If the flame of faith is put under a tub it will soon be extinguished as it uses up the oxygen in the tub. The flame of faith must be out in the open so that it can grow and spread amongst many more followers. It is for this reason that whenever Pam & I wrote a prayer card for anyone attending a Marriage or Engaged Encounter weekend we would always remind them that they are the light of the world and that they need to shine for others to see God working in them.
The first reading from Isaiah, gives a simple plan to follow, we are to share our food with the hungry, provide shelter to the homeless, clothe the naked, stay in relationship with our family then our light will shine like the dawn. Though this is not our light, it is the light of the one we follow. The light spoken about in John’s Gospel. When Jesus declared that He is the light of the world, He was saying that ‘He is the exclusive source of spiritual light. No other source of spiritual truth is available to mankind.’1
I would like to suggest that each morning as we wake and the light starts to fill the sky, we ask ourselves how can I be the salt and the light today? Or Who do I need to be the salt and light fortoday? If we can do this as part of our morning prayer time, then we will be able to focus on where Jesus needs us each day. We can also build in a reflection at the end of the day to ask ourselves how did I shine the light of Christ today? Was I able to be the salt of the earth to bring out the best in anyone today?
Sometimes we can be so caught up in ourselves that we miss opportunities. Today, Jesus is telling not to miss those opportunities and to remain vigilant to those around us. Remember He is speaking in the present tense, so we have to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world today. Not full of regret about what we should have done last week or overthinking how we can do something next week. For Jesus and for us the time is now.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
CCC 782: People of God to be salt and light
CCC 2044-2046: moral life and missionary witness
CCC 2443-2449: light on works of mercy, love for the poor
CCC 1243: the baptized (neophytes) are to be light of the world
CCC 272: Christ crucified is the wisdom of God
Please keep in your prayers this week
- The success of the forthcoming pastoral formation programme ‘The Wild Goose’ which we are using as part of the Year of the Holy Spirit.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- All of our young people preparing for the Sacraments.
- Those attending our RCIA programme.