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POPE ON ‘BEING SALT OF THE EARTH’ AND ‘LIGHT OF THE WORLD’

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

 

In today’s Gospel (Cf. Matthew 5:13-16), Jesus says to His disciples: “You are the salt of the earth [. . . ] You are the light of the world” (vv. 13.14). He uses a symbolic language to point out to those that intend to follow Him some criteria to live their presence and witness in the world.

 

First image: salt. Salt is the element that gives flavor, and that keeps and preserves foods from corruption. Therefore, the disciple is called to keep far from society the dangers, the corrosive germs that pollute people’s life. It’s about resisting sin, moral degradation, by witnessing the values of honesty and fraternity, without yielding to the worldly enticements of careerism, power and wealth. A disciple is “salt” who, despite daily failures — because we all have them –, rises from the dust of his mistakes, beginning again with courage and patience, every day, to seek dialogue and encounter with others. A disciple is “salt” who doesn’t seek consensus and applause but makes an effort to be a humble and constructive presence, in fidelity to the teachings of Jesus, who came into the world not to be served but to serve. And there is such need of this attitude!

 

The second image that Jesus proposes to His disciples is that of light: ”You are the light of the world.” Light dispels the darkness and enables one to see. Jesus is the light that has dispelled the darkness, but it still remains in the world and in individual persons. It’s a Christian’s task to dispel it, making the light of Christ shine and proclaiming His Gospel. It’s a radiation that can stem from our words, but it must spring especially from our “good works” (v. 16). A disciple and a Christian community are light in the world when they direct others to God, helping each one to experience His goodness and His mercy.

 

A disciple of Jesus is light when he is able to live his faith outside restricted spaces, when he helps to eliminate prejudices, to eliminate slander, and to have the light of truth enter in situations vitiated by hypocrisy and lies. To give light, but it isn’t my light, it’s Jesus’ light — we are instrument so that Jesus’ light reaches all.

 

Jesus invites us not to be afraid to live in the world even if in it one sometimes runs into conditions of conflict and sin. In face of violence, of injustice, of oppression, a Christian can’t close himself in himself or hide in the security of his enclosure. The Church also can’t close herself in herself; she cannot abandon her mission of evangelization and service. In the Last Supper, Jesus asked the Father not to take the disciples out of the world, to leave them there, in the world, but to keep them from the spirit of the world. The Church spends herself with generosity and tenderness for the little ones and the poor: this isn’t the spirit of the world, this is its light; it is salt. The Church listens to the cry of the least and the excluded because she is conscious of being a pilgrim community called to prolong in history Jesus Christ’s salvific presence.

 

May the Holy Virgin help us to be salt and light in the midst of people, bringing to all, with our life and word, the Good News of God’s love.

 

© Libreria Editrice Vatican


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