Light of the World, Salt of the Earth

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.”
(Matthew 5,13-16)

To brighten and flavor the world,
the flame must maintain its brightness and the salt its taste.

The second part of the analogy usually leads one to think about the salt flavoring (as a verb rather than an adjective) as opposed to what Jesus actually said, which has to do with salt keeping its flavor. How does salt lose its flavor? By being out in the open and soaking up humidity. That’s why a few grains of rice might be added to a salt shaker. Our Lord seems to be telling us that we have to seal up (even hide) our salt so that it has flavor when it is time to be used.

Along similar lines, how does a flame stay bright? By having some protection from the wind. A torch is its own protection. A small wick needs a glass screen to guard it from the breeze.

Doesn’t it seem that Light and Salt refer to the need for a guarded and rich interior life so that our exterior life remains effective? It is an antidote both to the activism that has no spiritual grounding and to the quietism that has no apostolate.


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