Imagine firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians arriving at the scene of a raging house fire.
Immediately those first responders would move into action. The firefighters would start battling the flames and searching for anyone trapped inside the home. The police officers would divert traffic, move spectators a safe distance away, and evacuate threatened structures. The emergency medical technicians would begin caring for the injured and setting up a first aid area.
Those first responders would fulfill the roles for which they had been trained. They would be the heroic men and women we expected.
We would be shocked if we saw firefighters doing nothing as a fire raged, or police officers ignoring people in harm’s way, or EMTs failing to assist the hurting.
In Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 5:13-16), Jesus speaks about his followers as the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
When we hear those words of Jesus, we might think they tell us what we should aspire to become. Yet Jesus does not tell us to work at becoming salt and light. Rather he says, “You are the salt of the earth….You are the light of the world.” Jesus tells us what we already are.
We were made the light at our baptism. There we were “enlightened by Christ,” the light of the world, so that we might “walk always as children of the light.”
Since that time, the salt of God’s word has been poured into our lives Sunday after Sunday. That word flavors our life with the truth and preserves us from being corrupted by the lure of evil and the false values of our society.
Just as we expect first responders to be what they are when called to an emergency, so the Lord expects us to be what we are as we go through life.
Several years ago, some Christians started wearing bracelets with the letters WWJD. Those letters reminded the wearer to consider What Would Jesus Do when they were faced with a decision.
Considering this Sunday’s Gospel, we might imagine there should be a bracelet with the letters, BWYA. Be What You Are. Be the salt! Be the light! Make a difference in a society where life has been made tasteless by loneliness, despair and a lack of purpose. Make a difference in a world darkened by sin and selfishness.
Be what you are! If we have forgotten what that requires, Jesus makes it abundantly clear this Sunday. “You are the salt of the earth….You are the light of the world.”
© 2020 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski