Jesus ask his followers to be like salt and light. And so, by a two thousand year old extension… he asks you and I to be the same. But what does it mean to be salt or to be light?
It’s worth considering that salt alone isn’t quite as useful as it is when applied onto something else. You wouldn’t just eat salt. That would be disgusting. But you would put some on other food to improve the experience. And light, by itself, is one particular thing, but when it is reflected off of something else, it becomes something else altogether. When artists talk about the quality of the light, they are describing the quality of that light as it rests upon a subject or a scene.
If you and I are going to be salt and light in our modern world, then we need to consider what we are doing… relative to others.
Relative to others.
In a way, it’s easy… or perhaps easier… to talk about what are referred to as the corporal works of mercy. These are what are outlined in today’s first reading: clothing the naked, feeding the poor, visiting the sick.
If we do these things in the absence of Christ, then we are people of goodwill… which is great. But doing these things in and of themselves will not make us followers of Christ.
The spiritual works of mercy are all about sharing our faith. This includes pointing out the wayward and sinful ways of others. It includes educating those who are ignorant about our faith. It includes sharing what we believe and doing so with compassion… and confidence. It includes counseling the doubtful. It includes comforting those who are sorrowful. Most of all, it means introducing others to Jesus.
In our culture, which seems increasingly un-Christian or even anti-Christian… these acts can be difficult and daunting. But this is what we are called to do as followers of Jesus. We can have all the salt and light in the world but if we hold onto them and don’t apply and reflect them off of those we encounter, then we are just a light buried and wasted underneath a bushel basket.
I take much comfort from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, which is our second reading today. When I feel as though I’m not smart enough, not educated enough, not insightful enough, and not brave enough to be salt and light, I recall Paul’s words to those in the community he served. He said: “I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.”
So it’s not about being smart or educated, insightful or brave. If we have our own story of faith to tell, then we should tell it.
Most of all, being salt and light isn’t really about us… it’s about God. May you and I reflect his light and love out onto others. May we be worthy and humble tools in his capable hands…