This year we will be studying the readings from Matthew's Gospel. We remember that Matthew was a Jewish Tax collector. We know that his community was Jewish, since Matthew stayed close to the Holy Land to the north. Matthew draws heavily on the Gospel of Mark, but we will see that he constantly writes from a Jewish perspective.
Salt and Light
We resume the reading of the Gospel of Matthew at the Sermon on the Mount.
Immediately after the teaching of the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches his disciples that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
We are familiar with the metaphor of light from the teaching of John that Jesus is the light of the world. And we will come back to that. The image of salt may be a little strange to us, especially if you are on a salt free diet! Salt was a very valuable asset in ancient times. It was a preservative. In the days before refrigeration, it was essential for preserving food. The soldiers in the Roman Army were paid in salt. We have the expression of a person being worth his salt. The Latin word for salt (sal) is the origin of our word salary!!! When Jesus says that you are the salt of the earth, he is saying that you, because of your commitment to him as a disciple, are one of the reasons why the world has not already rotted away. Each one of us helps to preserve the goodness and nourishment of this world. Loyal disciples of Jesus make the world a better place. Otherwise, when salt loses its savour, it is thrown out on the road in the snow season to help cars get traction, or in the old times, thrown underfoot to be trampled on.
Likewise, you are the light of the world. Let your light shine. Our behaviour should lead other people to Jesus. People should see our good works, not to praise us but to glorify the heavenly Father. If we are true witness to Jesus, we will keep the world a better place and lead others to Jesus. You are the reason why darkness does not rule the earth.