Today we continue with Jesus’ sermon on the mount. I have to admit, that being a former member of the Navy, whenever I hear this passage about salt and saltiness, I laugh a little. Being salty in the Navy meant that you had been around a while and knew the ropes. You were the person who had all the “insider” information, but you also had a bit of an edge to you; to be salty meant that you weren’t particularly warm and fuzzy, but that’s not what you were around for anyway. Your knowledge of tasks and history were valuable. However, one should beware when they come to ask you something, lest they get bitten. And, I may or may not have been called that a time or two.
Jesus tells his followers that they are the salt of the earth and that they are light. As I began to think about that, it seemed to me that Jesus was perhaps talking about community and the necessity of the community. If we think about salt, one grain of salt doesn’t do much good alone – it needs other grains of salt to join it to affect the flavor of food… and the same with light; even though one candle can give off a bunch of light, more candles can give off more light.
I think we can apply that to our lives as disciples. We are honestly better together, and we need each other to do the work of the kingdom. We need each other’s gifts and talents to make it all work; we are more effective at bringing the kingdom to life if we act together. I truly believe it is in community where we can truly experience the Holy Spirit’s movements and strength. And, this comes from a person who hated group work in school.
Jesus said that when two or three were gathered, he would be in the midst of them. I know for myself, I need the community in order to be a priest. Almost everything I do, I do in the midst of a community; when I give to you the body and blood of Christ, you are empowered to go from this place to do God’s work. And even in times of prayer, the community is within my consciousness to remind me of all that we do together, and all that I should be including in my prayers.
In community not only can our ministry be multiplied, but we also get the benefit of seeing and hearing and doing what is real; so often when left without people to hold us accountable, we get ourselves into trouble. When Jesus speaks about salt and light, he is telling us that we need to work together in order to bring about the kingdom. We need to be the light of the world in order that the world not be covered in spiritual darkness; the disciples of Jesus follow him wherever that may lead; and some of those places may not be where we want to go, but shining the the light of Jesus in those dark places helps people to have hope and to know that they matter. Let’s face it friends, we know there are a great many hurting people both inside and outside our walls. How wrapped up in our own “stuff” do we get so that we cannot see the pain and suffering of others? How often do we say, “maybe next time’?
We are the light of the world – and we are called to join together so that there might be bright light in a dark place. And since none of us can really bring about the kingdom by ourselves, we need to join all of our light together. We can do so much more if we join our gifts and our resources together. Some days one or more of us may shine a little brighter than another, and once we are together, it won’t matter as much. We care for each other and sometimes carry each other so that together we might make a difference for others.
In our baptism we received the Spirit of God. It is that Spirit working and praying in us that brings us together in order that we might use the gifts God has given us for God’s work. Do not even try to hide the light of the Spirit inside you… You won’t get away with it for long. I think most of us have had those experiences where we thought we weren’t enough for the task God asked of us… and yet we need to remember that we are not alone, that we are part of a greater community of faith that will serve beside us, hold is accountable, and teach us more about Jesus and about ourselves. You just never really know what wonderful things you are capable of until others tell you! So let’s get out there my salty friends and let’s bring the light of Jesus to those who need it.