“You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13)
Although in the middle of a Canadian winter, we might thank of salt as an agent for melting ice on roads and sidewalks, its primary historical uses have been as a preservative and for flavoring food. Anyone who has ever been on a salt-free diet knows how tasteless things can be without salt. Although we now have a bank of other preservatives, salt was essential in past ages to keep meat for a long period of time.
In the Old Testament, God made an inviolable covenant, literally a “covenant of salt” with Aaron and his descendants (Numbers 18:19). In 2 Chronicles 13:5, the bestowal of lands by God as a promise to David and his descendants is referred to as a “covenant made in salt “. It is believed that eating a bit of salt together was a sign of agreement by the parties in any covenant. It used to be (prior to 1960) a part of the Catholic baptismal ritual to place a pinch of salt on the tongue of the newly baptized to symbolize the permanency of the relationship established and prayer that God would help the newly baptized persevere in the commitment.
“You are the light of the world ” (Matthew 5:15)
The Bible is filled with the imagery of light in darkness, but the phrase “light of the world” appears only a few times. In the Gospel of John, Jesus states “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Here in this text from Matthew, Jesus says “You are the light of the world”. This interesting combination of texts calls us to let Christ be the light shining in and through our lives.
As salt of the earth we are called to preserve all that is true and good as well as add flavor that brings out the good for people around us. As the light of the world we are to let Jesus shine in and through us as we give light to others by our words and example.