At midday yesterday Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and, before the Marian prayer, he commented on this Sunday's Gospel reading in which Jesus says to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world”.
“It is rather surprising, if we consider to whom Jesus addressed these words. Who were those disciples? They were fishermen, simple people. But Jesus saw them through God's eyes, and his statement may be understood precisely as a consequence of the Beatitudes. He meant to say, if you are poor in spirit, if you are meek, if you are pure of heart, if you are merciful .. you will be the salt of the earth and the light of the world!”
And to better understand the meaning of Christ's phrase, the Holy Father explained that Jewish law prescribed the addition of a little salt to every offering presented to God, as a sign of alliance, and light was for Israel the symbol of the messianic revelation, triumphant over the darkness of paganism. “Christians, the new Israel, therefore received a mission in relation to all mankind: with faith and charity they were able to guide, consecrate and make fruitful all humanity. We all, as baptised persons, are missionary disciples, and are called to become a living gospel in the world: by a holy life we bring 'flavour' to many contexts, and defend them against corruption, like salt; and we will bring the light of Christ with our witness of true charity”.
But if we Christians “lose our flavour, and renounce our presence as salt and light, we lose our effectiveness. But our mission to bring light to the world is beautiful! … And it is also beautiful to preserve the light we have received from Jesus. … The Christian must be a luminous person, who brings light, who always gives light! … A light that is not his or hers, but rather a gift from God, and a gift from Jesus. And we bring this light. If the Christian allows this light to be extinguished, his life no longer has meaning; he is a Christian by name only”.
The Pope concluded by asking the faithful in the square if they wanted to live as shining lamps or as lights that had gone out; when they responded, “Shining lamps!”, he added, “It is God himself who gives us this light, and we offer it to others. Shining lamps! This is the Christian vocation”.