Today's Readings place an emphasis on Christian faith and call every Christian to be the shining light in the world. In Matthew's Gospel everyone is called by Jesus to be salt and light for others, for the world. Our lives, what we do and the way we do things, should be a source of light and meaning for others. Our actions should be a visible sign for others of God's presence in the world. A Christian has to be outstanding before everyone through his deeds and must enlighten all.
Jesus tells his disciples that they have to be the salt of the earth. When Jesus used this image of salt, he would have meant how a disciple of his must be valuable and precious like the salt he uses. In the ancient world salt was a highly valued commodity. Salt was connected with purity and its glistening whiteness made this connection easy. The Romans said that salt was purest of all things because it came from purest of elements, the sun and the sea. Salt was indeed most primitive of all offerings to God and the Jewish offering were always offered along with salt. It is a basic and essential item of normal diet and was the commonest of all preservatives. In the absence of the refrigeration system those days salt was used to keep things from turning bad and keep items fresh. Even today it is used to preserve edible items over a long period of time in many places. May be the medical sciences of today tend reduce the intake of too much salt and people are warned against it. But in older times it was a precious and often expensive commodity and because of its value it was often a favorite item of taxation. Salt is to be used sparingly. How often do you read a recipe that asks for, "a pinch of salt"? A pinch is very small. But here is the point. It is still necessary. That is why the recipe calls for it. Without that pinch of salt the food loses its flavor. So when Jesus says that we are the salt of the earth, he might be asking us to adopt the small gesture, the simple word, the gentle touch. When Jesus says that we are salt, he is telling us that sometimes following him involves actions that are not very big at all.
In his second imagery Jesus emphasizes the essential visibility of the Christian. He says that a Christian disciple must be the light of the world. Light is a rich image running throughout the entire Bible. He explains it further by using a third imagery that a city built on a hill cannot be hidden. During ancient times, the crown of a city was considered a good place to build a city. It enabled them to see the enemies at a distance and defend themselves more easily. Even in a house when a lamp is lit no one places it under a basket he says, but on the lampstand so that it gives light to all in the house. So Jesus tells his disciples that there cannot be hidden discipleship, rather they have to let their light shine before others.BACK TO LIST