The common theme of today’s three readings is our two-fold mission to the world, to be salt and to be the light of a city built on a hilltop.
Scripture lessons summarized:
In our first reading, the Lord God through His prophet Isaiah gives us examples of how we are to allow the light of God to shine through us. “Share your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday” (58:7, 10). The refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps.112), reminds us, “The just man is a light in the darkness to the upright.”
St. Paul, in the second reading, tells us that our proclamation of Faith will carry the Spirit and His power when we rely on the power and wisdom of God. Using two simple metaphors of salt and the light of a city on a mountaintop in today’s Gospel, Jesus outlines the role of Christians in this world. As a symbol of purity, salt was the common ingredient in sacrifices offered to God by Jews and pagans. In the ancient world, salt was the commonest of all preservatives, used to prevent the putrefaction of meat, fish, and fruits in pickles. Salt lends flavor to food items and was used to season and preserve food. A light is something which is meant to be seen. A lamp or light is a guide to make clear the way. A light serves also as a warning (e.g., red traffic lights which tell us to halt when there is danger ahead. Finally, light, particularly the sun’s, gives warmth and heat.
We need to be the salt of the earth:
a) As salt is a symbol of purity, used in sacrifices, the Christian must be an example of purity in speech, in conduct, and even in thought.
b) As salt is an antiseptic and healing agent, the Christian must have a certain antiseptic influence on life and society, defeating corruption, fighting against injustice and making it easier for others to avoid sin.
c) As salt preserves foods, we need to preserve the religious Faith, Christian cultural values, and moral principles which Jesus has given us, and to work at reconciling quarreling factions in families and communities.
d) As salt is a food-flavoring agent, we need to add flavor to the lives of desperate people through outreach programs, which give meaning to their lives, boost their morale, offer them occasions to help others, and provide hope where there is none.
2) We need to be the light of the world:
The second role of Christians is to receive the light of Christ and radiate it to everyone as love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, humble service, and respect for those with different ethnic backgrounds, different lifestyles, other faiths, or with no faith at all.
As guiding light in darkness, our duty is to show the correct and safe way and to illuminate it with Christ’s Light, thus removing the darkness caused by hatred, prejudice, spite, and jealousy.
As a warning light, it is the Christian’s duty to give timely and loving warning of physical and moral danger to fellow Christians.
As a warming light, our duty is to warm the cold hearts of others with warm, and affectionate words and deeds.