Salt and Light

There was once a man who walked into a little mom-and-pop grocery store and asked, 'Do you sell salt?' 'Ha!' said Pop the proprietor. 'Do we sell salt? Just look!' And Pop showed the customer one entire wall stocked with nothing but salt. Morton salt, iodized salt, kosher salt, sea salt, rock salt, garlic salt, seasoning salt, Epsom salts, every kind imaginable. 'Wow!' said the customer.

'You think that's something?' said Pop with a wave of his hand. 'That's nothing! Come look.' Pop led the customer to a back room filled with shelves and bins and cartons and barrels and boxes of salt. 'Do we sell salt?' he said. 'Unbelievable!' said the customer.

'You think that's something?' said Pop. 'Come! I'll show you salt!' Pop led the customer down some steps into a huge basement, five times as large as the previous room, filled floor to ceiling, with every imaginable form and size and shape of salt, even huge ten-pound salt licks for the cow pasture. 'Incredible!' said the customer. 'You really do sell salt!'

'No!' said Pop. 'That's just the problem! We never sell salt! But that salt salesman? Hoo-boy! Does he sell salt!'"

Salt has many uses. It can be used as food preserver, flavor enhancer, and in the context of our times, snow melter. During the time of Jesus, salt was a rare and precious commodity. So, in essence, Jesus is telling his followers that there will only be a few who will stay with Him and they were valuable. It is from them that his Church will flow, prosper and magnify. And so he told them how to live their lives, just as he is telling us today.

Be the salt and preserve the faith you have gained and preserve the world from corruption. Be the salt and enhance the Christian values and traditions you have received. Be the salt and melt the ice that afflicts the stony hearts of most people.

In order for us to do that, we have to be in the background. Jesus does not expect us to call attention to ourselves. He did not say, "You are the pepper of the earth.” The salt is not good when it is not visible. It has to melt in order to serve its purpose. It has to dissolve in order to attain its goal.

Whereas the salt has to be in the background, the light, which is the second image Jesus uses, has to be up front.
The Bible uses the image of light from the beginning of Creation until the Book of Revelation. In the Book of Genesis, light conquered the darkness and God said that the light was good. Here lies a fundamental faith question. If something in the world seems dark or shadowy to us, this might be because we cannot understand it for now. If something in our lives seems depraved or destructive, this might be because we are unable to comprehend it for now.

When darkness comes into our lives, there is a great need to understand it. We may have fumbled and stumbled. We may have stabbed our toes or bumped our knees. We may have fallen and found it hard to rise again. When any of these things have happened, pray not for understanding. Instead, pray for strength in faith.

But, if something comes as really evil, it is because someone other than God intervened. There is always the devil in anything that is evil. Sin is darkness, just as it is evil.

God conquered the darkness of the world with his creation of light. Jesus conquered the darkness of the tomb with the light of the Resurrection. The Holy Spirit conquers the darkness of our lives once we put on the armor of light.

We should never be afraid of confronting the dark. Children may have the childish fear of darkness. But grown men who are afraid of the light are in darkness themselves. Thus Jesus says, be the light and share this message we all knew from the moment of Baptism. Be the light and reflect its source. Be the light of faith, because faith sees best in the dark.

There was a mother mouse who decided to teach her children about the world. So she gathered all of her little mice and set out for a walk. Suddenly they found themselves in front of the family cat dozing in the sunlight. The mother mouse was scared. But she did not want to give in to her fright. So she signaled to the children to be very quiet and to follow as she began to tip toe quietly and slowly past the sleeping cat. Just as she was about to get past the cat, the cat's eyes popped open and raised its paw.

The little mice were petrified. What would their mother do? Well, just as the cat's paw started to come down, that mother mouse looked the cat right in the eye and started barking like a dog. And do you know what? The cat was so startled and frightened that it jumped up and ran away! The mother mouse, wiped her brow, shook a little and then turned to her little mice and said, "Children, I hope you learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes it's good to know a second language!"

God has a second language for us. He calls us his salt and his light. When we believe, we know his name. When we live our faith, we speak his language. As the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we are not just called to be his salt. We are also called to be his light, his salt salespersons.

6 February 2011

No comments: