Isaiah 58:7-10; 1Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-16
Jesus came to show us the face of God. Jesus is the face of God. When we contemplate Jesus we contemplate the face of God.
Jesus tells us many things about himself which help us to understand him. For example:
- I am the good shepherd.
- I am the vine.
- I am the bread of life.
- I am the way, the truth, the life.
- I am the gate of the sheepfold.
But every word Jesus speaks about himself is also a word about us. Every time he tells us who he is he tells us who we are.
- I am the good shepherd - you are the sheep of my flock.
- I am the vine - you are the branches.
Like when he asks: Who do men say I am? - Simon answers: You are the Christ. Jesus replies: And you are Peter ... the rock ...
Or when Saul is thrown to the ground and asks the Lord: Who are you, Lord? Jesus says: I am Jesus and you are persecuting me.
I am - you are ...
Today, in the Gospel Jesus tells us two more things that we are:
- salt of the earth.
- light of the world.
Salt does two things - it preserves and it gives taste.
When Jesus says that we are the salt of the earth this is what he means.
- We must preserve the earth - i.e. save it from corruption.
- We must give taste to it - i.e. improve its flavour - make it acceptable.
We are meant to stop the earth from going bad. We are meant to do what salt does, to inhibit the growth of the those things which cause things to spoil.
We could and we should reflect seriously on this analogy. It seems to me that there is a huge flourishing of disturbed, violent, perverted behaviour in the world at the present time. Just look at the cases before the courts in our country.
The Internet has made the proliferation of pornography of all kinds possible. What was once underground and under control has now come into the open and is aggressively ‘spoiling’ or corrupting the world. Violence is everywhere, especially in our hospitals and abortion clinics. We could go on and on.
A major reason for all this is that good people do nothing. The National Catholic Life Survey has made many things clear, but most frighteningly that Catholics, by and large, do not pray. The salt has lost its flavour. It is no longer capable of preserving.
Jesus also says we are the light of the world. By itself light is no good. It is only good when it shows us something other than itself. That is what Christians are called to do - to live lives that show the presence of God in the world. If we do not do this there is darkness and, without doubt, the world is today in deep darkness in many ways. We Christians must ask ourselves if we are giving out light.
Finally, I said earlier that when God tells us about himself it is always something about ourselves too. This works in reverse. When he tells us about ourselves he is at the same time revealing himself to us. What does he tell us about himself when he says: You are the salt of the earth ... the light of the world?
He is telling us about himself here because we are his light, his salt. He is telling us that he is counting on us. He has made us sharers in the coming about of His kingdom.
What good is salt if it has no flavour, or a light which cannot challenge the darkness?
Unlike real salt and real light which are dead, material things, we are living salt and living light. We can change. We can regain our flavour and we can rekindle our light.
This is my deepest wish for every Catholic community: that we may rediscover the things that make us salt for the world and that we may regain our brightness as Catholics.