Heads in the sand? – Sunday’s reading reflection


What can salt and light have to teach us about God and his reign on earth? Jesus used ordinary images, such as salt and light, to convey extraordinary truths about the kingdom of God. Salt was a valuable commodity in the ancient world.  People traded with it, like we trade with gold and stock.  Salt also served a very useful purpose in hot climates before the invention of electricity and refrigeration.  Salt not only gave food flavor, it also preserved meat from spoiling.  Jesus used the image of salt to describe how his disciples are to live in the world.  As salt purifies, preserves, and penetrates, so the disciple must be as salt in the world of human society to purify, preserve, and penetrate that society for the kingdom of God and of his righteousness and peace.
Jesus also used the image of light and a lamp to further his illustration. Lamps in the ancient world served a vital function, much like they do today. They enable people to see and work in the dark and to avoid stumbling.   The Jews also understood “light” as an expression of the inner beauty, truth, and goodness of God.  In his light we see light ( Psalm 36:9).  His word is a lamp that guides our steps (Psalm 119:105). God’s grace not only illumines the darkness in our lives, but it also fills us with spiritual light, joy, and peace.  Jesus used the image of a lamp to describe how his disciples are to live in the light of his truth and love. Just as natural light illumines the darkness and enables one to see visually, so the light of Christ shines in the hearts of believers and enables us to see the heavenly reality of God’s kingdom.  In fact, our mission is to be light-bearers of Christ so that others may see the truth of the gospel and be freed from the blindness of sin and deception.

Jesus remarks that nothing can remain hidden or secret. We can try to hide things from others, from ourselves, and from God. How tempting to shut our eyes from the consequences of our sinful ways and bad habits, even when we know what those consequences are.  And how tempting to hide them form others and even from God. But, nonetheless, everything is known to God who sees all.  There is great freedom and joy for those who live in God’s light and who seek this truth.

(Adapted from Don Schwager)