First Reading: 1 Kings 17:7-16
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 4:2-5,7-8
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:13-16
BE A ‘SALT AND LIGHT’ IN THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU
It is interesting that immediately after Jesus preaches the Beatitudes (as Matthew records it), he then proceeds to talk about the relevance of his disciples as the salt of the earth and light of the world. Needless to say that whoever lives the new law of the Beatitudes proclaimed by Jesus Christ (the new Moses) becomes the salt and light of the world. The two parabolic sayings, ‘salt and light,’ define the life and mission of the disciples, in contrast to that of the Pharisees and pagans. But then, why did Jesus use the concepts of salt and light?
Salt is a fundamental necessity of life and has been used since ancient times in many cultures as a seasoning, a preservative, a disinfectant, a component of ceremonial offerings, and as a unit of exchange. The Hebrews, both during the Old and New Testament periods, were certainly not an exception. Leviticus (2:13) and Ezekiel (43:24) make it evident that salt was an important part of ancient Hebrew religious sacrifice; and, therefore, took on a “consecrating” role. Thus, if it loses its taste, it was “trampled by men”, in a desecrating gesture. Also, salt reminds us of wisdom (cf. Mk 9:50), for we must season our speech with it (cf. Col. 4:6). Moreover, even newborn babies were rubbed with salt, as we read in Ezekiel 16:4. In addition, Salt adds flavour to foods and is still used to prevent corruption. In relation to light, Jesus used this concept because Light is pure, it penetrates darkness, moves with incredible velocity; it nourishes life; it illumines all that comes under its influence. It is a fitting symbol of God, the All-Pure, the Omnipresent, the Vivifier of all things, the Source of all grace and enlightenment. It represents also our Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ and His mission. He is “the Light of the world,” (John 8:12), to enlighten “them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” (Luke 1:79; Matthew 4:16). Little wonder the psalmist exclaims: “in your light, Lord, we see light…” (Ps. 36:9).
The prophet Elijah that we read about in the first reading could be said to be the salt and light of his time because of his zeal for the true faith in portraying Yahweh as the one true God, and because of his intervention in the life of the poor widow and her son. Asa result of the drought, there was only a handful of flour in the jar and a little oil in the jug for the widow and her son, after which they thought that their lives would end. Nevertheless, the man of God intervened in their lives, and just like ‘salt and light,’ penetrated their darkness (despair), added taste, and preserved their lives.
Dear friends in Christ, being ‘salt and light’ simply means to influence the people around you by showing them the unconditional love of Christ through good deeds; in essence, living out the beatitudes. We are called to be the salt and light in the world that spread kindness to others through words, thoughts, and actions that embody God’s goodness. Therefore, in a unique and loving way, you can allow others to experience the Lord’s presence by being ‘salt and light’ in their lives as a good friend, child, parent, spouse, priest, colleague, religious, church member, etc.; this way, happiness would fill our world, just as today’s Psalmist says: “‘What can bring us happiness?’ many say, let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord.” Hence, as “light of the world,” we are called to reflect the light of God in us unto others in order to establish happiness in our world. Above all, as shepherds of souls and baptized laity, we all have some duties of apostolate to one another. Everyone should continue to build his neighbour by good examples, exhortations, good advice and encouragement, and other means that can suggest a wise and prudent zeal.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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