Sunday, February 5, 2017

Salt and Light

The Last Supper by Dali
In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus says we are to be “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” to others.

“Salt of the earth” usually means someone is dependable, one you can count on through “thick and thin.”   Or a sailor might say a captain’s speech is “salty,” that is, coarse, not politically correct.

Salt by itself doesn’t taste very good – it might even make you sick.  And looking directly at the sun or into a bright lightbulb can severely damage your eyes.

But when you add salt to food or shine light on an artwork, they can do wonders.  Salt can bring out the natural flavor in food, from filet mignon to popcorn.  Salt in our bodies enables our muscles to contract, our blood to circulate, our hearts to beat.  In short, salt enhances, purifies and preserves.

And light can transform a cold night into a warm day. Light enables us to study, to discover, to behold the beauty and the wonders of God’s universe.  Light warms, nurtures, sustains, reveals and cheers.

We are “salt” when we bring out the goodness in people.  We are “light” when we illumine the presence of God all around us.  To become “salt” is to bring out the “flavor” of God in everyone and everything; and to be “light” is to illumine the presence of God in the midst of everyday life.

How can we be “salt” that brings out the best in people; how can we be “light” that illumines the presence of God all around us.  By who we are and what we do with what we have!

Every one of us has gifts or talents that can bring out the best in other people.  You and I possess by virtue of baptism the power of God to believe, to hope and to love.  And within our society there are many splendid callings.  Whoever you are, you have a specific vocation—a calling--right now to bring out the best in other people.

 How? By asking the Spirit of God to work within us.  Oh, yes, personality can be a blessing.  But more importantly the Spirit of God works through us as we are.  The Spirit illumines our minds to know the way we should behave, and strengthens us to do so despite obstacles.  He gives us his gifts: wisdom to focus on what truly matters; understanding and knowledge, to enter into the mysteries of God; counsel to make good moral decisions; fortitude to stand up for what's right; piety to give God our praise and worship; and fear of the Lord: the healthy concern never to lose our friendship with God. The Spirit gives us these gifts so that we can be “salt” and “light.”

The gifts or talents we have are not for ourselves but for the common good, for the family, the workplace, the community. The gifts we have look beyond ourselves to our life with others. No Christian is an island.  The Spirit empowers us, as we are, to help others become more human, more godlike in their relationships with other people.

And each of us, with the gifts of the Spirit working within us, can be “salt” and “light.”

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