Shaking Our Salt and Recharging Our Lights

By Nancy Brouillard McKenzie, Ignatian Volunteer Corps

If you remove from your midst
oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;
if you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday.
IS 58:9-10

Today’s readings urge us to sow our salt and share our light of faith and justice with all peoples. It is no accident that salt and light form the basis of our discipleship. 

First, Isaiah eloquently explains to the Israelites the need to seek peace, remove oppression and hate in all forms, and serve the compelling needs of the poor, the migrant, and the disabled. For their good works, Isaiah tells them that the light of mercy and truth will dispel the darkness of evil (IS 58:7-10).

I feel pain and anguish for the same suffering today, but not for long. Instead, I see the light of the faithful selflessly performing many acts of mercy and spreading Jesus’ love.

Following Isaiah, the responsorial psalm identifies and praises the just man or woman for being the light among us (PS 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9). At first, the virtues of the just person appear simple:  living justly, fearing no evil, trusting in the Lord, generously giving to the poor, and drawing out the righteous to come forward to do the same.

However, trying to live justly requires accepting humility for being followers of Jesus, one of my weaker virtues. Moreover, Pope Francis urged us to pursue the strength of “childlike” humility in our lives when he said, “The humility of the childlike is that of somebody who walks in the presence of the Lord, does   not speak badly about others, looks only at serving and feels that he or she is the smallest.”

Finally, in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells us that we are “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (MT 5:13-16). In ancient times, salt was a precious commodity used to preserve and season food, make bricks of fuel from various dung, and trade for other commodities.

When Jesus says to give away precious salt or not let it lose its taste, he wants us to move out of our comfort zones, forget ourselves and share our discipleship with all peoples. Pope Francis further explains that salt is not for ourselves to keep but “to give flavor to the lives of others, to give flavor to many things with the message of the Gospel.”

Similarly, Jesus tells us our light of faith and love must shine on our good works for the glory of God and for others to see. From Pope Francis’s perspective, we are not to hide or keep our light to ourselves but use it “to illuminate others.”

As a result of decades of experience living, working, and standing in solidarity with  the poor and with marginal communities, Columbans have “illuminated”  and identified four advocacy priority areas, and a fifth overarching concern. They are: Migration, Environmental Justice, Economic Justice, Peace and Nonviolence, and Interreligious Dialogue.

How can we not run out of salt and batteries for our light? The answer from Pope Francis does not disappoint me: The salt given to us at baptism is a gift that never ends, and prayer generates our light.

Weekly Reflections on Justice is produced by the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach staff, volunteers, interns, Columban parishioners, Columban Missionaries, and friends of the Columbans. We hope these reflections help to guide you in your own spiritual journey working toward justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.