Add Flavor to the Lives of the People Around

02-05-2017HomiliesFr. Tony Okolo

In the ancient period and time of Jesus, salt was of a great value. It serves multiple purposes. It wasused to purify things. When things like fruits and vegetable are sensed to be contaminated, salt wasused to wash it and purify it. Because of its whiteness it is connected with purity. The Romans saidthat salt was the purest of all things because it came from the purest of things; the sun and the sea.It was used for preservatives, thus to keep meat from decaying salt was used to keep it fresh. However the greatest and most obvious quality of salt is that salt lends flavor to things. We allknow how insipid a food without salt tastes. Thus, Jesus, very much aware of the great value of saltin his time uses it to point to his followers what they are expected to be.

Therefore, when Jesus says in today's Gospel you are the salt of the earth, he is inviting us as his followers to have a certain antiseptic influence in the life of the people we come in contact with. He wants us to live our Christian lives in such a way that we preserve goodness in the world. He wants us to be agents of purification in our lives and the lives of people we come in contact with. He is also challenging us to add flavor to the lives of people we meet. Failure to be any of these in the society we live raises a serious question about our Christian life. That is why he says, "but if salt has lost its taste how shall its saltiness be restored. It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men." That is to say, if we as Christians cannot be an agent of positive change and influence in the society in which we live what use is our Christianity. Life becomes tasty and full of flavor when it contains the salt of Jesus, his words, his loving kindness, his benevolence, his merciful forgiving, in a word his love. According to William Barclays "We are meant to be salt of the earth, and if we do not bring to life the purity, the antiseptic power, the radiance that we ought, then we invite disaster."

Furthermore, Jesus says "you are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." The first meaning of this claim is that a Christian is meant to be one who stands out positively. A Christian should be visible beyond the Church. A Christian whose good works and light stops at the door of the church is not a true Christian. As light of the world it means that our light should even be more visible in the ordinary activities of the world. Jesus by this invitation demands that we should be nothing less than what he is. In the Gospel of John he says "I am the Light of the world and anyone who follows me will not walk in darkness." (Jn 8:12.) Jesus calls his followers to be a light that shines out in the darkness and society.

Another characteristic of the light is that a light guides and directs us. That is why we obey the traffic light because it guides and directs us that we do not collide with others while driving. In the same way a Christian is meant to be a guide that can lead people positively. As Christians who have the light and grace of God within us, we should be people who lead others to the truth. It means Christians must, of necessity, be good examples of people to follow. That is why Pope Paul VI said that people are ready to listen more to preachers who lead by example.

Then the next question for consideration is how can we be truly and concretely salt of the earth and light of the world. The answer is seen in the first reading of today from Isaiah the prophet when he says "Thus, says the Lord, share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, cloth the naked when you see them, then your light shall break forth like the dawn." He goes on to say, if you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; then light shall rise for you in the darkness and the gloom shall become for you like midday. That is to say, quarrelsome, ill humored, unloving, hard-hearted Christians cannot be salt and light of the world Jesus tells us today. Where are you classified as you read today's gospel and this reflection? Do you add flavor to people's lives beginning with your family members and those who come in contact with you? Are you a good light and example to your family members: brothers and sisters, husband or wife and your children and grandchildren? Where do you stand? Wishing you all a blessed week and blessings of the new month.