Year A: 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 5: 13-16
The Sermon on the Mount continues - and Jesus offers two simple - but very powerful - images of the role of His disciples in the world - to be salt and light.
At first sight, salt does not seem very glamorous - but anyone who has had to go on a low-salt diet knows the difference it makes to a meal! The job of salt, though, is not really to be tasted itself - but to bring out the other flavours in the meal. In Jesus’ time, it was also important in preserving food - a vital job in a hot country where food would quickly go off and become at least unpalatable - and at worst dangerous.
In a similar way with light - the job of light is not to draw attention to itself - it is there to allow people to see things that would otherwise be hidden in the darkness.
So it is with Jesus’ disciples - that is us...
Like salt, we are not to overwhelm the world - but to bring out the goodness - or preserve the goodness that we find in it.
Like light, we should allow the Light of God to shine through us - not so that we dazzle people with our radiance - but so that they can see the light of truth.
We may be tempted to hide the light - especially when it might get us noticed - or where people would not understand. That is a risk of discipleship - but, Jesus says, that by allowing our light to shine, other people will see clearly and give praise to our Father in heaven.
Another point worth noting is that, in the Gospel, Jesus was not speaking to the great and the good - He was speaking to a crowd of people who had followed Him to the hillside. He was also speaking about what He saw as real in the here-and-now - not something that would come about when everyone was perfect.
Jesus looks at the people before Him - then and now - and says “You are the salt of the earth...” “You are light for the world...”
Our role as salt and light for the world is something we are called to do now - however imperfectly. The little flavour we bring - the small light we can offer - all make a difference to the world. Without us - life is tasteless and dull!
What does it mean for me?
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