There are many things we take for granted in life and salt is one of them. We use it everyday to flavor our food but seldom consider how important it is to life. Salt, you see, is essential to the proper functioning of our bodies as it helps maintain proper fluid levels, which, by the way, make up 50-65% of an average adult body. In short, salt not only enhances life but is essential to it.
Light is another thing we take for granted. Remember the last time the power went out in your neighborhood? The refrigerator and freezer stopped functioning as did the furnace. The TV went off. Computers were useless and if you have an electric garage door opener it meant you’re not going anywhere unless you disconnected the drive mechanism to lift the door manually. All of these are important but when we lost power we first looked for a flashlight or candles, something to shed light on the situation so we can deal with the darkness.
When Jesus uses a metaphor it’s worth examining its elements more closely to better understand what Jesus is telling us. Today’s metaphors, salt and light, are the two best known from the Gospels and worth a closer look.
If I am salt of the earth then I have an essential nature to the earth besides enhancing it. The world needs me in the same way the body needs salt. By my Faith, I help maintain balance in a world that could easily degenerate into the same condition that existed before the flood.
If I am light of the world then the essential aspect of my nature once again shines through (pun intended). If I hide my light, my Faith, under a bushel basket I not only deny my very existence but I also run the risk of having the lamp of Faith snuffed out for lack of air.
There are many ways that I can be salt and light but today’s first reading from Isaiah makes explicit certain possibilities: share bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, cloth the naked and do not turn your back on your own (fellow human being).