Gospel Reflection for February 9, 2020, 5th Sunday Ordinary Time

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 58.7-10, 1 Corinthians 2.1-5; Matthew 5.13-16

“You are the salt of the earth.…You are the light of the world.” Matthew 5.13-14

Two thousand years ago, people had no refrigeration. People who survived on fish had to eat them immediately after catching them. Hunters had to eat meat as soon as they killed an animal. Salt became a precious commodity because it allowed fish and meat to be dried and cured and thus last a long time. The process of curing food eliminated dependence on seasonal availability and allowed food to travel and be traded.

However, salt was difficult to obtain and consequently a highly-valued, trade item. At the time of Jesus, the Romans controlled all salt production in their empire. The Latin word for salt is salarium. Roman soldiers received salarium as payment for their work. Salt then was their salary.

Jesus uses salt as a metaphor to encourage his disciples to realize their preciousness in God’s sight and their importance in creating a loving human community. Jesus encourages them to preserve their spirituality in the midst of Roman occupation. He calls them like salt to healing and curing others in their world. Jesus also calls his disciples to be light for the world, to be counter-cultural in their society, to illumine the value of every person. The call is ours as Christians today. Kind, gracious, generous, respectful actions toward others invite the same in return.

What affirms you are worth your salt as a citizen and a Christian? What light shines in your actions?