Born to Be Salt of the Earth and Light of the World
(see Mt 5:13-16)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
In today’s Gospel, Christ our Lord says to His disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.”
Salt makes food tasty. Salt also keeps food from being rotten. Salt even helps cleansing wounds.
But in order for salt to accomplish its good service of human life, it should be used as seasoning, thrown into raw meat and fish, applied to smelly injuries.
Believers in Christ have to involve themselves in living and working with people in a society filled with evil thoughts and actions. Christians should be willing to associate themselves with people in a world torn by hatred, selfishness, and organized crimes.
With their exemplary way of life Christians can wash away toxic and harmful effects—many and different forms of social illness—caused by evil forces from the body of society. Christians through loving and caring gestures can heal the wound inflicted by doubt, fear, lies, betrayal in people’s hearts. Christians’ unconditional forgiveness may help revive hope in reformative and dignity-restoring justice.
Only when they accept to be mixed with different forms of raw and smelly things can they be useful and helpful. If they refuse dying for the good of others, if they are afraid of losing their safe and comfortable life, they turn themselves to be tasteless and useless.
However, committed Christians have to face the big challenge of how to preserve their dignity as true and authentic disciples of Christ, the way a lotus flower emerges clean, beautiful and fragrant from often dirty mud and polluted water.
Saint Paul teaches us the secret of how to stay firm and steadfast in our faith when engaging the forces of evil. Ours should be a life so intimately and so closely united with Christ that it could be described as “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.”
Christ also wants us to be the light of the world. We need light to see. Without light, we do not know the way. We cannot work in darkness.
Unfortunately, not all people love light. Those who do evil things prefer darkness to light. They are afraid of light, they hate light, and they would do everything they could to destroy light lest their sinful acts are exposed to the public.
In order for Christians to be the light of a world covered with falsehood, deception and lies, they have to speak the truth, to be sincere in what they think in their heart and what they say by their mouth, to act with honesty and to do things with transparency.
Now, being the light in the dark night of sinfulness, Christians become the target of both fear and hate and so run the danger of being persecuted. Being faithful to Christ means to have to pay a price, sometimes very high: the price of your blood, the price of your own life. This is the price that the holy martyrs, our heroic forefathers, paid for their faith in Christ when they refused compromising their identity as those who, alive or dead, belong to Christ alone.
Christians remember what belonging to Christ means when they hear our Lord say: “If the world hates you, realize that it hates me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its owns; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”
No better word of comfort and encouragement that this of Christ Himself: “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
And one more, strong enough, “I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
If because of fear or cowardice Christians fail to bear such a brave witness, they have hidden the light of faith under their personal interest and so lost their identity as expected by Christ our Lord and Savior.
Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.