By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ call in the day’s Gospel (Mt 5:13-16) for His disciples to be salt and light.
Jesus’ use of symbolic language, said the Pope, lays out criteria for how the Lord’s disciples are to live their mission in the world.
Salt: resisting sin and moral degradation
Beginning with the metaphor of salt, he said it gives flavor and preserves food from spoiling.
So, said the Pope, “the disciple is therefore called to keep society away from the dangers and corrosive elements that pollute people’s lives.”
Christians do this by resisting sin and moral degradation, as well as by bearing witness to honesty and solidarity. He also warned of several temptations to be on guard against, including careerism, power, and wealth.
Even when we fall, said Pope Francis, being salt means starting afresh every day “with courage and patience”, seeking “dialogue and encounter with others.”
Being salt also means not seeking approval or praise, but being faithful to Jesus’ teaching to serve our brothers and sisters in humility.
“This attitude is greatly needed!” the Pope exclaimed.
Light: performing good deeds to bring others to Christ
Turning to the second image, Pope Francis said light “dispels darkness and allows us to see.”
Jesus, he said, has already dispelled the darkness of sin, though some shadows “still remain in the world and within individuals.”
“It is the Christian’s task to dispel it further by making Christ’s light shine among others and by proclaiming His Gospel,” he said.
We can emanate the Lord’s light through our words, but especially through our good deeds, directing others “to God so they can experience His goodness and mercy.”
“A disciple of Jesus is light when he or she knows how to live their faith outside narrow spaces, helping to eliminate prejudices, slander, and bringing the light of truth into situations tainted by hypocrisy and lies.”
Church: overcoming oppression to evangelize and serve
Pope Francis said Jesus is urging us to live our faith in the world, despite the headwinds of conflict and sin.
The Church, he said, must overcome violence, injustice, and oppression, and “cannot abandon her mission of evangelization and service.”
“The Church gives herself with generosity and tenderness on behalf of the least and the poor. She listens to the cry of those in last place and the excluded, because she is aware that she is a pilgrim community called to extend throughout history the saving presence of Jesus Christ.”
Before beginning the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis concluded his remarks asking that the Blessed Virgin “help us to be salt and light in the world, bringing to everyone – in life and word – the Good News of God's love.”