As we continue to reflect upon the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel, we hear Christ tell his disciples that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. These two symbols, salt and light, are pregnant with meaning. If salt should lose its taste, or the light be hidden, then what good are they? Salt gives flavor to food, makes it more pleasant to eat, and helps preserve food from going bad. In the Old Testament, salt was to be included in every sacrifice that was offered to God (Leviticus 2:13). One of the reasons for this was to show that our sacrifices were meant to be pleasing to God! God’s first action in Genesis was the generation of light, a symbol of God Himself, in contrast to darkness, evil, and death. To be salt and light, then, is to be an active witness of Christ’s Kingdom to the entire world.
It’s easy to look around and see the results of Christians ceasing to be the salt and light of Christ; secularist ideologies, denial of God, materialism, and, perhaps most scandalously, divisions among fellow Christian brothers and sisters – the list could go on. So many troubles in our society stem from Christians failing to live out their Christian responsibilities to each other. How noticeable it is when we fail to take Christ to the places where we live and work. As a remedy for the divisions of our time, Jesus calls us in every age to be salt, to avoid corruption, and to bring wisdom to all human activity. We are meant to be light for others, and live our lives in a way that illuminates others and attracts them to Christ. We are truly salt and light when we show Christian charity in the midst of our work, our everyday activities, and our ordinary lives.
How are we supposed to do this on a practical level? In the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah lists a series of works of mercy which would afford us the opportunity to love others as God loves us – ways in which we can be salt and light for others. We ought to share our food and shelter with others, we ought to clothe the naked, avoid all threats and curses, and help those in need. If we live charity with those around us, we’ll give testimony that will attract many people to faith in Christ.
Mary, our Blessed Mother, can help us to be the salt that prevents corruption and the light which illuminates and gives warmth. We can pray for her intercession, that we would always be ablaze with love for others, rather than a smoldering wick. We can rededicate ourselves to conduct that clearly reflects love for others, and ask Jesus to make us a lamp who gives light and warmth to all.