Salt and Light

Scripture     Matthew 5:13-16


You are the salt of the earth… but if salt has lost its taste,

… it is no longer good for anything.

You are the light of the world…we do not light a lamp and put it under the bushel basket…

rather we put it on the lampstand and it gives light to all in the house.

Let your light shine before human beings!




What a great Gospel proclamation! Thank you Jesus of Nazareth for revealing to us how we human beings were all created to be ‘salt and light’ visible for the world to see and savour. Our Christianity has taught throughout the centuries that we human beings ‘fully alive’ in all our giftedness, give great glory to God. What a wonderful day it will be on this planet when all the lights are on and shining and lifted up on their lampstands! Yes, all human beings are to be about freely letting their unique ‘light of Christ’ shine in their immediate neighbourhood/world. And how radiant the day when the Gospel message is shared and lived with passion, zest, and flavor, appealing to all seekers, whatever their age or culture.



Let us look carefully at what Jesus says in the opening words of this passage. "You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world." The personal pronouns are plural and emphatic, as if He were pointing right at all of us as His redeemed people and declaring to us, "YOU ALL - YOU are these things!" Note also that Jesus says, "You ARE" these things; not that he wishes we were these things, or that we ought to work hard to become these things; but that we already are, at this very moment - the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We don't have to work hard to become salt and light. That’s a very important statement. How long would that take, if it were up to our doing? How hard would we have to work, if it were up to us to make ourselves into the salt of the earth and the light of the world? It would never happen! But here, Jesus teaches us that that's what we already are by God’s inflowing grace.



This is the deep interior contemplative grace that is our birthright and our original vocation. We have only to discover it and allow it to burst forth in all its radiance. The easy way to awaken to this divine indwelling is by prayer and mindfulness and humble listening to the still small voice within. With time and patience we come into the experience of God indwelling our deepest centre. We are humbled and exalted. We start to observe our whole life becoming ‘one’ now – it’s an ordinary life – but there is an awareness of a quiet, mystic-active union with God and with one another that flows into everything, twenty-four hours of every day, seven days of every week. The simplicity and the receptivity of ‘letting it all be done in us’ comes to bear fruit now as we live our life “hidden with Christ in God”, as St. Paul described it.



Once a person has entered into this consciousness of abiding in the indwelling presence of God, there is only this divine life nourishing and inspiring our active life and ministry. We thereby become SALT and LIGHT for the world. We are the bearers of God’s light and God’s wisdom in the world. The old meaning of ‘hiddenness’- as a being seen and not heard, or - as a concealing of one’s giftedness – now comes to glare out at us as reprehensible unfaithfulness. There is a need to make a deliberate change in our understanding of hiddenness and restore it to its essential nature. In the new language one’s gift – and only the purity of the gift – shines forth with a brilliance for all to see. The ‘Gift’ is nothing less than a participation in the life of God. Just as God is by nature, hidden, yet manifest within all creation, so we must allow the inner light and wisdom of God to be visible through us in our world. No longer grasping after any exterior displaying of our own achievements, or desire to be in the limelight, we simply becomes transparencies of God. This concept of littleness has an interior, mystical side that is accompanied by an exterior, missionary side. Hiddenness leads to world mission. It is egoless and pure.



A Christian spirituality that invites persons to “be salt and be light” challenges us to live at the very heart of the mystery of God, who though little and hidden and self-emptied – is fully manifested in All. One’s life then exhibits the transcendence of the spiritual - making us countercultural in our world. These ‘salt and light’ folks are the essential ones for the enlightenment of the whole world. They live and proclaim the Gospel in such a manner that they give flavor and zest to their teachings and can make their listeners thirst for me. They don’t lose their saltiness and they don’t shrink under bushel baskets! And is not, our whole planet longing for such a contemplative emergence once again? Shine and reflect the holiness of Jesus so that people will see your good works and glorify God.



Yet, shockingly, what a radical reversal of this being ‘salt and light’ so often happens in our Christian families and communities even to this day. We have too many folks hiding their gifts and their talents because of the cost of emotional rejection or persecution even from the majority status quo. There are too many individuals refused acknowledgment, or even, use of their gifts of “salt and light” within their own parishes and communities because of fears or prejudices or whatever! Jesus urges us to not let our light be buried under bushel baskets! Such a waste of God’s magnificence!  This burying of God’s gifts and talents is sheer foolishness! This ‘hiding’ diminishes God’s glory that waits to be manifested in the beauty, creativity and generosity of selfless love that is waiting to be released in individuals all around us. Bring out the lampstands and invite someone you know to shine! Calling forth the gifts in the Mystical Body of Christ is the greatest mission of the universal Church.  



In closing, we need to pay careful attention to the command that Jesus gives at the end of this short passage. It's the only command found in a passage that is, otherwise, focused on simply telling us what we are. He says, "Let your light so shine before human beings, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Because of what we are in Christ, we are called to live with diligence in this world and behave like what we are, God’s dear children! We are commanded by Jesus to “be salt” on this earth and “be light” in the world, because God has provided no other salt or light for the world than us! All He commands us to do is shine... and try not to hide the light. What a great honor, what a great responsibility! Let it be done in us and through us! Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, may we grow continually to serve in the wonderful, exciting, extraordinarily relevant role God has given us. May we behave more and more like "salt" and "light" in this world. AMEN.



Carrying Grace   “I am the light of the world. The one who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."




#2 arletteh 2011-02-06 13:40
light within and around us will season the common everydayness with flashes and times of eternity. " You are the light and salt of the earh. "Reveal Yourself, O Christ, that when You appear, we may be revealed with you!"
#1 arletteh 2011-02-06 13:33
“Hiddenness!” The word always intrigues me! “Our life, what it is to be, what it will be even the next minute, is hidden .Our life is a Mystery. What is life all about? What am I doing here on earth? What is my “work”, my vocation? How does it fit in with everyone else’s vocation? What does the incomprehensibl y huge cosmos have to say to me? Isn’t that immensity immensely frightening? “ I am the Light of the world”(the universe, the cosmos)Ah! It’s beginning to make a little more sense. Our “original” vocation” is to be light .“Your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col.3:3).Whew! There’s a connection for me! I am not alone! Through prayer, the spirituality of Jesus, the Christ, who overcame all fear and lethargy ,pain, self-seeking and death ,and through the life of all our spiritual mentor(our “ammas” and “abbas” throughout the millennia ,we learn to abide, and do abide ,in that Light. I think of that Light as Spirit. Yet, there is more: “You are salt of the earth.” Daily, the light within and around us will season the common everydayness with flashes and times of eternity. “You are the light and salt of the earth.”

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