Reflection on the Salt of the Earth Gospel Reading

During mass this morning, the gospel from this past Sunday came to mind again and I felt compelled to share a bit of my reflection on it. The gospel reading was from Matthew 5:13-16:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

This gospel passage has always been a bit of a mystery to me. The first message that we get from this passage is that we should live out our faith in public, with the examples of the salt, lamp and city showing the irony of not doing so. What always sounded a bit off to me though was the salt bit. It made sense that you wouldn’t put a lamp underneath a basket, but salt without flavor that made no sense.

This past Sunday while I was reflecting upon the readings before mass, I focused on, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?” And then it hit me, it doesn’t make any sense and that’s the point. Not only is salt without taste useless, but it’s absurd. Such a thing wouldn’t be considered salt, but instead we would call it something else. So too is it for those who claim Christ for their own. To profess faith in Jesus as savor, without an outward manifestation of that profession is an absurdity. If we don’t act on that which we have been given by the grace of God then we are like salt without taste, not really salt at all.

This then raises the importance of, “Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket”. We can down play this in our modern society where light is virtually free and at the command of the flick of a switch. In the past, that wasn’t the case, light in the darkness of night was a more valuable commodity. To squander it by hiding it was not just something weird, but absurd. But it also reinforces the fact that we need to go forth, haven been imbued with the light of Christ. Light is meant to drive back darkness, if it doesn’t do that then it is pointless. This also points to the fact that light gives light to other things as stated, “where it gives light to all in the house” and “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” In doing so further lamps are lighted.

As the light is spread, no longer is it just the, “light to all in the house”, but now becomes a “A city set on a mountain” glowing with light shining out into the darkness of a fallen world which “cannot be hidden.” That is, the church is the light upon a mountain, whose light is comprised of her inhabitants who shine forth with the light of Christ. But our lights can only shine as bright as we act upon the urgings of the Holy Spirit, who drives us forth so as not to be the absurdity that is tasteless salt.

My prayer on Sunday, and that which could be for us all is:

May the Holy Spirit descend upon me, that He might give me the courage to do the Lord’s work this day, that I might let the Light of our Heavenly Father shine forth, so that I might make Christ present to all those that I meet today.

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