But what does it mean to be salt?
When Jesus, in our reading from Matthew’s Gospel this Sunday, tells his disciples that they are the salt of the earth and light of the world, he wants them to believe that they themselves are able to enhance the lives of others as they bring God’s love to bear on those lives. Salt enhances flavor; light brings life. In all that we do, Jesus suggests, we are called to live our lives for others, enhancing their lives. We are graced so that we can bring the love of God to all we meet, by living the gospel in their midst, thus revealing God’s love in action.
In some respects, Jesus is echoing a key idea in Isaiah, where the Lord reveals that true social morality results in life-giving justice for all: Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. We are called to live lives of compassion, seeing the need around us, and meeting it in such a way as to equalize the situation at hand. But it means we can’t just talk about justice: we have to do justice, participate, act. Moreover, to be authentic, such behavior must come from the depths of who we are, and must reflect our own openness to and trust in God. Such a person—one who is in right relationship with God—is described more fully in Psalm 112: s/he is gracious (the source of grace and blessing for other), merciful, and just. When our compassion recognizes our source and our commonality, we respond out of that commonality. We can thus be a blessing to other, and God is revealed in us.
For Paul writing to the Corinthians, such knowledge of God is focused first and foremost on Jesus Christ and him crucified. The paradox of the Cross lies in the fact that salvation comes from a criminal: the love of Jesus dying for our sins transcends the embarrassment and humiliation of a crucified Savior. If you know this, know it not only in your mind but in your heart, you will experience God’s love in the depths of your being, and can only respond to the experience of such love with faith and humility, in complete service to other. Enhancing the lives of others, you are salt. It’s as simple as that.
This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.