Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our Gospel reading begins with a phrase most of us are pretty familiar with, “You are the salt of the earth.” According to Dictionary.com, “salt of the earth” means “an individual or group considered as representative of the best or noblest elements of society.” When we remember who the disciples were, and how often they messed up in following Jesus, it might seem strange that Jesus calls them the salt of the earth.
Not to mention, in Jesus’s time, salt was not just something you put on food. Salt was used to preserve food. It was so valuable it was used as currency. And salt is essential for most living things. Without it, we would die. So what does this have to do with the reading from Matthew? We need to know how valued and essential salt is to understand what Jesus is saying to the disciples and to us, about how essential we are.
Jesus goes on to call the disciples the light of the world. We know the importance of light. It, too, is essential for most forms of life. When we live our lives as followers of Jesus, we are both salt and light, bringing life to others by how we live our lives.
Of course, just as the disciples, we too mess up. Sometimes we mess up a lot, but Jesus continues to call us the salt and light of the world. When Jesus says salt can lose it flavor, that is true in a way. If you pour enough water on salt, it seems to disappear. But salt is still salt. When the water has evaporated, we see that the salt is still there. In the same way, light cannot be contained. When you put a basket over a fire, you may not be able to see the light. But if you wait, eventually the fire will consume that basket and bring light to the whole room.
We make lots of mistakes in our lives. We forget to follow Jesus’s teaching about loving our neighbor. We sometimes don’t share the light and the salt that is within us. But that light and salt, that love that comes from God, cannot be lost.
As we travel through Advent, we need to remind ourselves... that the light of kindness we share by our care for others in need, and that the fire that lights up the love of God in our hearts… need to show, in how we love all of God’s children. May you show your light and salt wherever you are. Amen.