By Fr. Rey Diesbourg, MSC
People who are generous, down to earth, always willing to help, and faithful to their commitments, are often called the salt of the earth. We all know such people who have had a positive influence on us and who have made a real difference in their local communities. They are the ones who have responded to the challenge Jesus gives to his disciples when he says, “You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13-14)
Salt enhances the flavor of food and serves as a preservative. When we apply these properties to humans, it means that individuals live and deepen values like love, truth, commitment, service, family, etc. Light provides growth, clarity, perspective. For humans, light gives us the ability to see where we are going, to assess the impact of our actions, to broaden our view of the world around us.
When we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we make a positive impact on those around us. The prophet Isaiah gives us some suggestions on how to do this, “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked…do not turn your back on your own. Then your light will break forth like the dawn…If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusations and malicious speech…then light shall rise for you.” (Is. 58:7-10)
Because of our baptism, each of us is invited to discover how best to be salt of the earth and light of the world. Perhaps it involves a relationship with the elderly or with teens. Or it may be helping a local food pantry or a shelter. Or it might be through a Church collection for various missions around the world. It could be that we are to be salt or light for someone in our family or a friend who needs encouragement.
However we respond to the challenge, it’s important to remember that we are not the source of salt or light. It is God’s virtues and God’s light that guides our paths, steadies us when we stumble, and brings us out of whatever darkness we experience. Jesus then passes the torch to us so that God’s light can shine through us for others. And when this happens, Isaiah says we “shall quickly be healed” and Jesus says “our good deeds will glorify the heavenly Father.”
In our own place, in our own time, in our own way, our simple acts of love and caring reflect the presence of Christ because, like Jesus, we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
FR. RAY DIESBOURG, MSC (New York Community)
Father Ray professed his first vows on September 13, 1967 and was ordained on June 8, 1974. He is working as interim administrator of the parish of St. Vincent of Paul, Cape Vincent, New York.