Summary: Salt and light are what we are and what we do.
Title Dashes of Salt and Splashes of Light
Text: Matthew 5:13-16
Thesis: Salt and light are what we are and what we do.
I don’t know her name, where exactly she lived, or who she was. We never spoke. We passed each other, she coming home from six 0’clock daily Mass, I going to early school to practice the piano before class began.
I saw her coming all the way from Grand, where she would pause for the traffic. She never rushed across the street… she had a peaceful gait, no rush to it. When we were finally close enough to make eye contact, she looked up, straight into my face, and smiled. It was a complete smile, so entire it startled me every time, as if I’d heard my name called out on the street of a foreign city.
The smile was a brief flood of light. She loved me, I was sure. I knew what it was about. She was praying. Her hand stuck in her cardigan pocket, held one of the beads of her rosary. She was a person who prayed alone for no reason that I understood. But there was no question that she prayed without ceasing.
Her look, it was not an invasive look, but it latched. She had me. Not an intrusive gaze, but one brimming with a secret, which, if only she had the words, it was clear she’d want to tell. (Patricia Hampl, Listening for God, Chapter 6 from Virgin Time, Augsburg Fortress)
Of all the people who lived in Patricia’s Summit Hill neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota, a place, where critics observe that Patricia Hampl could not in any significant way experience the presence of God… the one light in her life was a smiling parish woman.
That unnamed woman was a person of influence in Patricia Hampl’s life. Jesus taught that we too, are persons of influence.
1. You are a person of influence.
“You are the salt of the earth…” Matthew 5:13
“You are the light of the world…” Matthew 5:14
As a person of influence, you are a person of value.
• Valued because you are a rare commodity in this world.
Salt is a necessity of life for animal life. We will die if we do not have salt. Unfortunately, salt does not grow on trees or in our gardens. Salt is harvested from the sea, deposits left from ancient salt-water seas, and mined from rock-salt mines like the old Carey Salt Mine of Hutchinson, KS where 650 feet below the surface you will feel as though you are entombed by an enormous solid vein of rock salt.
The Underground Vault Company of Kansas web site states of salt: “Egyptian mummies were preserved with it, Roman soldiers were paid with it, battles have been fought for it, humans can’t live without it.” (http://www.undergroundvaults.com/aboutus/undergroundsaltmuseum.cfm)
In its history of salt the Wikipedia site states that during the Middle Ages, caravans of as many as forty-thousand camels traversed 400 miles of Saharan Desert bearing salt. People needed it for preserving and flavoring food. Commentators often make much of the uses of salt emphasizing that it is symbolic of purity and useful for the preservation of food against decay. But Jesus speaks of the flavor or savor or seasoning effect of salt. Christians bring good seasoning and savor to the earth.
As a person of influence, you are also necessary in this world.
• Necessity because the nature of the world
The world is a dark place. Jesus of himself said in John 3:19, “The light from heaven came into the world, but they loved darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. They hate the light because they want to sin in the darkness.” John 3:19-20
When speaking of Christians in Ephesians Paul said, “For though your hearts were once full of darkness, how you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it.” Ephesians 5:8
The thinking of literary giants like Shakespeare reflects a dim view of life. After hearing that his wife had died, Macbeth took stock of his indifference to the event. Death to him seemed like the last act of a bad play… a lot of sound and fury but without meaning. To him the world was a stage upon which every person acted out his little play. He said,
“All our yesterdays have lighted fools
the way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.” (Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5, 19-28)
Shakespeare and others may think of our lives as ‘brief candles” or “poor actors strutting and fretting for an hour upon a stage” or “idiots full of sound and fury whose lives signify nothing.” But Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”