You are the salt of the earth. But if salt has lost its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It has become useless. It can only be thrown away and people will trample on it.
You are the light of the world. A city built on a mountain cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and covers it; instead it is put on a lampstand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before others, so that they may see the good you do and praise your Father in heaven.
In the ancient Near East, salt symbolized a variety of functions, shifting between opposites of blessing and a curse, destruction and restoration, protection and harm. While salt adds flavor and preserves food, it is at the same time an essential element for humans to remain healthy in a hot climate. As the food preservative par excellence, salt was used to symbolize permanence and religious purity. Salt is also an important ritual element in many religion, it is used at a child’s baptism.
Ancient Palestinians homes had a single doorway and without windows, thus, lamps are very important. Light symbolizes the realm where God dwells. Light, in opposition to darkness, connotes God’s presence (cf. evil men of darkness against Jesus, the Light, at Gethsemane). Jesus taught his hearers that to be the salt and light in his way is not of imperialistic domination and tyrannical use of power, but of meekness and humility.
Light, like salt, was an important household necessity for Palestinian peasants.
They couldn’t do without them. Light and salt are meant to enlighten and preserve, but there are some people who by their lives darken and corrupt others instead. Let your light shine in your little corner.
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