Salt and Light

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5

I’m not preaching today but, if I was, I would say something like this: In confusing, uncertain and downright scary times like these, it’s important for the people of God to remind ourselves of what we are all about. We must remember that Jesus, and his earliest followers, lived in a time of oppression and violence. Their whole nation was under the domination of the Roman Empire and had been for a very long time.

Some of Jesus’ fellow Jews counseled violent revolution to overthrow the government. These were the Zealots of Sicaari (dagger men). Others followed the path of withdrawal. The Essenes and others retreated into the desert to avoid being persecuted and to create an intentional community of prayer and holiness; there to await the coming of the Messiah. Still others like the Pharisees and Sadducees tried various ways to “go along to get along.” They paid attention to their religious observances, but made the compromises they could with the political establishment and, in the process, were often rewarded by the state in ways tangible and intangible.

Jesus taught another way — the way of non-violent resistance to the powers-that-be. He and his closest followers continued to live “in the world” but to live lives that were remarkably different from the dominant culture. Like salt they livened things up a bit in the midst of the meager rations of everyday life. They stood with the outcast and the marginalized. They brought what healing they could into the lives of the poor. Occasionally, by openly debating the issues (with the Pharisees and others), by staging a mock procession into Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, and finally by undergoing public martyrdom, they brought a shock to the taste buds of those who feasted on the provisions of others.

By public preaching and teaching, by enacted parables of resistance and justice they sought, like that lamp on a lampstand, to shed light into the darkness of their day. They stood up to tyranny, but without breaking a bruised reed or lifting up their voices in the street. They were salt. They were light.

Are we?

 

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