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SALT OF THE EARTH AND LIGHT OF THE WORLD

Father Francis's picture
Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

1 Kings 17:7-16 ; Mt. 5:13-16

What great compliments Jesus paid to His listeners when He called them “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”. Had they ever thought of themselves in such glowing terms?

I am sure you have had a meal that looked delicious when served but was bland when you tasted it. But what a difference when a little salt was sprinkled on it!. This is because the salt draws out the flavour. When Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth" that is what He had in mind. We are to be the salt that flavours people's lives, that brings the best out of them.

Salt was a valuable commodity in the ancient world. People traded with it, as we trade with gold. Salt also served a very useful purpose in preserving food in hot climates before there were fridges. Jesus used the image of salt to describe how His disciples are to live in the world. As salt purifies, preserves and penetrates, so His disciples purify, preserve, and penetrate the society in which they live.

And what is the significance of His reference to light? In our homes we take electricity and lighting for granted. In Jesus' time how essential was one lamp in a room to enable people to see and work, and to avoid stumbling. The Jews also understood the word light as an expression of the inner beauty, of truth and goodness of God. In His light we see light (Psalm 36:9). His word is a lamp that guides our steps (Psalm 119:105). God's grace not only illuminates the darkness in our lives, but it also fills us with spiritual light, joy, and peace.

Jesus used the image of a lamp to describe how His disciples are to live in the light of His truth and love. Just as natural light illumines the darkness and enables us to see visually, so the light of Christ is to shine in the hearts of believers and enables us to see the heavenly reality of God's kingdom. In fact, our mission is to be light-bearers of Christ so that others may see the truth of the Gospel and be freed from the blindness of sin and deception.

Although Jesus calls us 'the salt of the earth' and 'light of the world' the big question is whether the life we live, here and now, worthy of His description?

Holy Spirit, send us out to a poor and needy world where we can be the salt and light, through which the good news of Your love may shine. Give us a generous heart to respond to Your call.

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