Be Salt, and Shine the Light!

User’s Guide to Sunday, Feb. 5

In the footsteps of the Blessed Mother, the world needs us to be what we were chosen to be.
In the footsteps of the Blessed Mother, the world needs us to be what we were chosen to be. (photo: Unsplash)

Sunday, Feb. 5, is the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Mass readings: Isaiah 58:7-10; Psalm 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-16.

In the Gospel, the Lord describes metaphorically what a Christian is and what he expects of us. Note three things about what the Lord says:

The text says, “You are the salt of the earth. … You are the light of the world. … But if salt goes flat it is good for nothing. … No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket.” Note he says, “You.” 

He is not talking just to people long ago or to the person next to you. He is not merely talking to your pastor or the saints. He is talking to you. 

You are salt. You are light. You

If we are not salt and light, then no one else will be. You are either salt or you are nothing; in fact, you are good for nothing. As for being light, we’re either light or the world is in darkness.

When Jesus says that we are the salt of the earth, what are some of the lessons we can learn?

Salt seasons. Christians are called to add spice to life, to bring beauty, joy and hope to the world. Joy is the surest sign of a Christian. 

In our best moments, look what the faith has contributed: art, music, churches, hospitals, universities, the scholastic and the scientific method, and holidays (a mispronunciation of “holy days”). Our tradition and scriptural teaching of justice, mercy, love and the dignity of the human person has blessed the world. Do you bring all of that to the lives of others? 

Salt preserves. Before refrigeration, people often used salt to cure or preserve meat. The salt killed bacteria and other microorganisms that caused rot and decay. As Christians, we are called to prevent further decay in this sin-soaked world. 

Salt heals. In the ancient world, salt was used on wounds. It helped to stop bleeding, killed bacteria, and prevented further infection. So, too, the Christian faith: Through our doctrinal and moral teaching, and our living of it, we are called to bring healing to this world. 

Salt burns. Yes, salt stings when applied to wounds. We Christians aren’t just sugar and spice and everything nice. When salt is applied to wounds, it burns and often brings out loud protest. The truth of the Gospel can be irritating to a world that is wounded by sin. But despite the protests of the world, the sting is a healing one. It is driving out the disease of the world and preventing further infection. 

The Lord says that you are the salt of the earth. He did not say that you are the salt of the Church. For salt to be effective, it has to get out of the shaker. Too many Christians are bold in the pew but cowards in the world. 

Salt in the shaker is useless. As for the light, you don’t light the light; it is the darkness that needs the light. Light is meant to be seen. There are too many undercover Christians, secret-agent saints, and hidden holy ones. 

Jesus didn’t light our light so that we could hide it under a basket out of fear. So, be salt, and shine the light — in the footsteps of the Blessed Mother! The world needs us to be what we were chosen to be. Jesus has chosen to work through us, so may we be useful to his purposes.