You are the salt of the earth (…) the light of the world!

February 7, 2023

You are the salt of the earth (…) the light of the world!

Dear friends, this past weekend, our Lord Jesus used the symbolism of salt and light to help us understand the divine nature of the mission that he confides to those who decide to follow him. He did not say: “You are like the salt of the earth (…) you are like the light of the world.” He voluntarily declared: “You are the salt of the earth (…) you are the light of the world.” This is who we truly are as Christians, as loving disciples of Christ. So, let’s take a closer look at this reality to better understand the nature of the evangelizing mission that Jesus confides to all of us today, whether we are lay faithful, clergy or religious.

Salt purifies and preserves: like the element of fire, salt literally destroys microscopic creatures like harmful bacteria or microbes through a dehydration process called osmosis (removal of the water molecules). Bacteria need water to live and grow: without it, they die. During this inhibition process, it disrupts and interrupts their enzymes as they chip away at their DNA. “In essence, the salt around the outside of the food draws water molecules out and replaces them with salt molecules until the amount of salt is equal inside out.” (from the website, “howstuffworks?”; Article: “Why does salt prevent food from spoiling?” by Laurie L. Dove, 2021)

Salt also gives flavour, yet it remains a very humble element: people don’t usually praise a meal for being salty, but many will miss the salt if it’s absent or when it is in insufficient quantity. Therefore, purifying, preserving and giving taste to this world means that we should always beware of either putting too much salt when we testify to our faith or talk about the commandments and Church teaching; or by not putting enough salt when there is need to evangelize and to speak the truth to someone or to a group of people (this could lead to lukewarmness, a state that we should all fear, according to our Lord Jesus: “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot or cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth”, says Jesus in the Book of Revelation, 3:16).

Becoming salt of the earth entails that we should always try to be balanced in order to give the right amount of flavour and at the right time. This is a question that must often be discerned in the Holy Spirit and should always end up in a state of divine inner peace. If you don’t have peace after questioning the amount of salt you should put into your meal, then it’s not the right time to proceed at this moment. One must remain patient in this process that only God truly controls before and after the outcome.

Light, on the other hand, enables us to perceive the beauty and colour that surrounds us. Without light, there is darkness that seems to deform things and realities. Light can also make us experience warmth, such as the warmth emanating from the sun or from a fire. Another property of light is that it gives joy to the heart and mind of those who are able to capture it.

Let’s see if we can apply some of the above considerations to our Christian lives.

“You are the salt of the earth” (…) “You are the light of the world.” Becoming salt means to purify this world by proclaiming the truths that Jesus taught us. Proclaiming these divine truths is a way to destroy the bacteria that is present in the thoughts and actions of those who refuse to accept God in their lives and who are therefore blinded by their misconceptions; of those who do not yet have the grace to believe in eternal life and in the infinite love that God has for everyone. This purification process must be carried out with a great deal of patience, humility and love in order to succeed one day.

But I must add that proclaiming is not the primary way to purify from harmful spiritual bacteria. One must first become an example, a model of love and communion with God and with one’s neighbours. Love, divine love, can spring only from a loving relationship that has its source in intimate and daily prayer with the Almighty. Meditating on the Bible is certainly the most beneficial way to invite the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and to inspire us in everything we think, say or do. Without intimate and daily prayer with God, we will not bare any good “salty” and lasting spiritual fruit. One must be personally transformed, converted by the grace of God, before being able to transform or inspire someone else to a true conversion.

This is how we become salt and light of the world at the same time: when we become authentic examples of men and women who take time to pray everyday; who share with those in need without hesitation; who are compassionate and charitable; who are patient in adversity and who persevere in their love for God and for their neighbours. Only grace from the Holy Spirit can lead to this spiritual transformation of the disciple of Christ. Without the Holy Spirit, we do not even know how to pray correctly, says Saint Paul. Even more so is this truth applicable to our thoughts and in the actions that we claim to carry out in the name of God!

If we look closely, we can understand that the Word of Christ himself gives an incomparable taste to our life, and just like a festive meal, we have the mission to share this reality with those who have not yet tasted the divine flavour of the love of God. With joy and confidence in the One who inspires our thoughts and actions, we are sent out on mission to the lost sheep of Israel; to those who have never tasted the divine and flavory meal of the Eucharist, of the Sacraments and of the Word of God.

In this past weekend’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to witness, personally and communally, and thus he incites us to mission. The Evangelization Project that has been underway in our Diocese in the past two years is nothing less than the one and only mission that Jesus confides to those who decide to follow his path, a path that ultimately leads to the glory that awaits the true believer in the eternal realms.

May we all come to understand more fully our communal mission to evangelize and to make new disciples, as Jesus affirms to us before his ascension into heaven, through our example of faith, of humility, of love and prayerful life; through our love and perseverance in spite of trials, adversities and sufferings that will one day totally disappear when we reach our final destiny. That is what becoming salt of the earth and light of the world means and entails!

May God bless you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ!

+ Guy Desrochers, C.Ss.R.
Bishop of Pembroke

Read: Statement of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

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