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Pope Francis on the Images of Salt and Light

February 09, 2020. Christ Uses Symbols to Show the Disciples how to Carry Out Their Mission.

Jesus told his disciples they were the salt of the earth and light of the world in today’s famous gospel reading, Matthew 5: 13-16:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
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.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Like most gospel readings, this one takes a bit of unpacking for the average person to understand, and Pope Francis provided an analysis on February 9, 2020, in his commentary before praying the noonday Angelus with the large crowd of pilgrims gather in St. Peter’s Square. The Holy Father explained that Christ uses symbols to show the disciples how they are to carry out their mission.

“First image: salt. Salt is the element that gives flavor, and that keeps and preserves foods from corruption.,” Pope Francis said. “Therefore, the disciple is called to keep far from society the dangers, the corrosive germs that pollute people’s life. It’s about resisting sin, moral degradation, by witnessing the values of honesty and fraternity, without yielding to the worldly enticements of careerism, power and wealth.

“The second image that Jesus proposes to His disciples is that of light… Light dispels the darkness and enables one to see. Jesus is the light that has dispelled the darkness, but it still remains in the world and in individual persons. It’s a Christian’s task to dispel it, making the light of Christ shine and proclaiming His Gospel. It’s a radiation that can stem from our words, but it must spring especially from our ‘good works’.”