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We use the phrase “salt of the earth” to describe people whom we trust, admire and depend on, people who are totally genuine and sincere in their way of living, whose word we can rely on, people who guide us wisely and kindly. Salt as an ingredient doesn’t exactly enjoy a good reputation these days in our awareness of what we consume and its content in foods of all kinds. We are told that too much salt is bad for you! Like lots of other things!! In the time of Jesus, salt was very valued. In the absence of refrigeration it was used to preserve foods. It was also used to give food a flavour. When Jesus tells his disciples “you are the salt of the earth” he was telling them what kind of disciples they were called to be, by which he meant that they were to make a difference to others by their way of imitating him in all things, by living in God’s ways. So too with us: we are called to be “salt of the earth.”

The word of God today also makes reference to light. The Israelites are told by the prophet Isaiah that when they look after the poor, the homeless and all in need of any kind then “their light will shine like the dawn and their wounds be quickly healed.” This theme continues in the Gospel when Jesus calls the disciples not just to be “salt of the earth” but to also be “the light of the world.” Being a follower of Jesus, being a disciple is about serving others in love, compassion and kindness of heart. It’s about making a difference to others by our imitation of Christ. The way we live is to be like a lamp on a lampstand where it gives light to all in the house. Our way of being light brightens and enhances the lives of others. “Give light and people will find the way” (Ella Baker). Isn’t it so true? When we are genuinely good in our lives we affect others profoundly for the better. Albert Schweitzer said, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to give thanks to those who lighted the flame within us.”

Our world today can be a very dark place. There is war, violence, persecution of Christians, There is the pain of homelessness, poverty, hunger, disharmony and divisions. Our world is very broken and dark. Many, many people live in great impoverishment of spirit, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. We all need to be surrounded by people who help us in the darkness of life, however that is for each one of us: illness, depression, breakdown of relationship, family struggles, worries about a child or a teenager, alcoholism, drug abuse. Darkness is found in many guises, Grief arrives sometimes unexpectedly. We all need to have people of “light” around us, people who are ”salt of the earth.” Remember the words of Jesus: “Whatever you do to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do it to me.” (St. Matthew 25:40) There is no greater calling than to honour these sacred words than by being “light” and “salt.”

Fr. Tony.