Brothers & Sisters:
Who are you? How do you answer when someone asks you that question? The most common answer is to give our name. We might also tell a bit of family history and the connections that help identify us. Often we’ll tell something about our work, the things we do, and how we spend our time. I cannot, however, think of a single time when I ever answered that question by saying, “Oh, I’m the salt of the earth. I’m the light of the world.” How about you? Have you ever answered that way? Has anyone ever answered you that way? Maybe, but I’m guessing probably not.
Why not? Even if we’ve never said it aloud do we ever think of ourselves that way? Do we know that about ourselves? Jesus knows that about us. Jesus thinks that about us. Jesus even says that about us. It’s right there in today’s gospel
“You are the salt of the earth…. You are the light of the world.” Don’t think this is about somebody other than you. Jesus isn’t talking to particular individuals. He’s talking to the crowds that have followed him from Galilee, the ten cities known as the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. That means they’ve come from everywhere. They’ve come to see this one they’ve heard about. They’ve come to listen and learn, to be healed, and to have their lives put back together. They’ve come in search of meaning, direction, and purpose.
You and I stand among that crowd. We’re one of them. We’ve come today to see this one we’ve heard about. We’ve come to listen and learn, to be healed, and to have our lives put back together. We’ve come in search of meaning, direction, and purpose. Jesus’ words are as true and applicable today as they were two thousand years ago. “You are the salt of the earth…. You are the light of the world.”
Jesus doesn’t stop there, however. There are profound implications to being named salt and light. It means that we are to flavor the world. We are to season and transform human activity in such a way that it reveals God in this world. It means we are to help people better see God’s life in theirs. It means we are to enlighten the dark places of the world. You and I are the means by which God flavors and illuminates life and the world.