Salt and Light
Jesus used this metaphor of salt as a teaching tool for His disciples. He calls His disciples “the salt of the earth.” But immediately, He warns them: “But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Mt 5:13)
In these modern times, it is not easy to understand how salt can lose its taste, because salt is a very stable chemical compound; pure salt with virtually no impurities can retain its properties indefinitely, including its taste. However, the salt used at the time of Christ in that part of the world was not processed in the same way as it is done in modern times. Rather, it was obtained from marshes along the seashore or from salt lakes, which dry up in summer. The salt from these places, because of the high degree of contamination become insipid and useless. Much of it is so impure that it cannot be used for seasoning food. It cannot even be thrown into the fields because it makes the soil infertile. Therefore, it is good for nothing except to be cast into the street, where it is trodden under foot by man and beast, to prevent slipping in wet weather.
Two ways in which salt can lose its taste are contamination with impurities and dilution. Similarly, a disciple of Christ can lose his effectiveness with sin and lukewarmness. (1) Just as salt loses its taste because of contamination with impurities, a disciple can also lose his effectiveness with the contamination of sin. The more there are impurities in the salt, the less it retains its natural taste. In the same way, as a person commits more and more sins, the less effective he becomes as a disciple. That is because sin separates a person from God, and if a person’s heart is far from God, how can he be a true disciple of the Son of God? (2) Just as salt loses its taste because of dilution, a disciple can also lose his effectiveness because of lukewarmness. Dilution makes salt lose its flavor and strength. In a similar way, lukewarmness makes a disciple lose his passion for Christ; it also makes a disciple lose his enthusiasm and affection for God and His love. Lukewarmness is a problem of the heart; it leads to inattentive, distracted and inconsistent practice of the faith. It also leads to halfhearted thanksgiving to God.
A true disciple is close to God. Although he is still a sinner, nonetheless he strives to be closer to God by avoiding sin. He is passionate for the love of God, and he strives to be attentive and consistent in the practice of the faith, as well as wholeheartedly giving thanks to God.
Jesus also used the metaphor of light as a teaching tool for His disciples. He calls His disciples “the light of the world.” But then He admonishes them that a lighted lamp must be set on a lampstand, and not hidden under a basket, so that it can give light to the entire house. Similarly, the disciples must be visible before others so that people can see their good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.
Jesus explains quite plainly that His disciples must be like a lighted lamp for all to see. The light from the lamp is likened to the actions of the disciple; their deeds are meant to be seen by the people so that the people will glorify our Father in heaven. Just as a good lamp gives out a pure light, the actions of the disciple of Christ must be pure; it must be intended for the glory of God. On the other hand, a bad lamp gives out a light that isn’t pure – like a psychedelic lamp which projects unnatural colors and illusions. In the same way, a person who does good deeds for selfish purposes also projects illusions and draws the attention of people to himself rather than to God.
In recent days, the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus throughout China and to the world has become one of the primary concerns in people’s minds. Seeing how tens of thousands of people’s lives have been affected by the outbreak of this virus, is there something more than we can do in addition to praying for them?
Jinde Charities, which is based in Hebei province, is an NGO of the Catholic Church in China. As a charitable organization, it has been working for disaster relief and various kinds of humanitarian aid for many years. Recently, it has issued an emergency appeal for aid to support medical staff, who work at the front-lines to save people’s lives. At this time, Jinde Charities are in desperate need of supplies such as face masks, protective clothing, gloves, eye protection, disinfecting solution, etc. But the problem is that all these supplies are in short supply in China. They are asking help not so much for money, but for these supplies to be shipped to them.
In this regard, Fr. Bill will be asking for a second collection after Mass, so that our parishioners can have the opportunity to reach out and help those who have been most affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Our plan is to use the second collection to purchase the much needed supplies as much as we can. Thereafter, all purchased supplies will be sent to Fr. Joseph Lin of St. Agatha Parish in Brooklyn, New York. Fr. Lin is currently coordinating aid for Jinde Charities in China in behalf of Chinese parishes in the U.S.