CANON GERRY CONROY
I found myself asking what makes a good sales-person? Self-belief, or belief in the product they are selling. Perhaps there is a kind of self-belief that comes from a belief in the product they are selling. Perhaps it’s not the most suitable comparison but it came to mind when I was thinking about that Gospel passage. You are the salt of the earth – it sounds like Jesus is building up the people’s self-confidence, perhaps like parents would do for their child when they praise them for their efforts.
This Gospel passage follows immediately on from the Beatitudes where the people Christ was speaking to were broken by the world, people who had lost that joyful belief in the rightness of how they were living their lives because they had faced so much opposition and the way of the world seems to be in direct contrast to their way. Success in life seemed to belong to those who didn’t bother looking to something more than just success in this life.
Certainly our world could use something to season it, to turn it from the folly it seems set on pursuing. It needs a light in the darkness that has overtaken it; it needs something to give it back a sense of purpose and joy in life when so many seem to have lost a real deep lasting joy. The joy this world is currently offering seems shallow and destructive of people and so empty that people often end up worse off.
You are that light Christ is telling us, but it can be hard to believe that when those around us seem to think the joy in life is to be found somewhere else, that what matters in life is to be found in our own personal pursuits within this world. We need to look at our life and confirm for ourselves what it is that brings into it a true and lasting peace. We need to realise how lucky we are to have what we have in our faith.
Then we can ask How we are salt for the earth, how we are a light for our world? The answer cannot be simply in what we do. There must be something more than our words of kindness, our acts of kindness, or the gentleness by which we deal with others, more than the integrity by which we live our lives, by the justice we seek and demand of those in authority, or how we live it in our own lives, even more than the forgiveness we show to others and the forgiveness we are willing to seek, putting aside our pride and shame to do what is right. There must also be the hope we have that looks beyond this world and inspires all we do and how we live a life underpinned by the joy of eternal life. Knowing we have this great gift in our faith that shows us the love of God can inspire us to be salt for the earth and light for the world, it can give us the confidence we need to live our faith and not succumb to the world and its agenda.
But even more, our faith and our hope give us the strength to live uprightly even when we are not filled with hope and joy, when all is not light and splendor in our life, when it is a struggle for us to be a light in someone else’s life or salt that gives flavour to our world. Then we are truly disciples of Christ who loved us even to his death on the cross and prayed for those who were crucifying him.