Did we just hear what was being said in the Gospel? Jesus is affirming us. He is not saying that we “must be salt of the earth, light of the world…” So this is not a command per se. Rather it is an affirmation. Jesus affirms the qualities that exist within. We are the light of the world, the salt of the earth.
This is reflective of God’s love.
And we know and believe that God’s love is not purely affective, meaning, it is not a purely emotional energy. It is effective. It induces a change.
God’s love is God seeing the good and the potential for good within us. Even when nobody else can see it, or chooses to see it, God always sees the goodness within.
God’s love is salvation. It is salvation because it is effective When this love is accepted by each of us, it effects a change in each of us. We will respond, we will want to respond. This is not something we MUST do, but rather of our own will.
Think of this way, we go back to the story of creation in Genesis, each one since there is at least two.
There is darkness, chaos, or nothing at first, depending upon which story is read. I think God looks out onto the void, the darkness, the chaos. God loves it. God sees the potential for goodness amid the darkness, the chaos and the nothingness and so God speaks…and I imagine what God speaks “I love you”.
And the darkness, chaos and nothingness respond…light and darkness form, the sky, land and sea appear, the birds of the sky, the beasts of the fields, the fish and leviathans are birthed; we humans are created. It is good. It is very good.
Jesus, the love of God made flesh and bone, speaks of God’s infinite love of all humanity. Jesus speaks of our potential to be one with God, as God. Jesus speaks of our goodness and the amazing potential for goodness within.
When this revelation is taken into our hearts, minds and souls, change happens. The darkness, the chaos, the void within each of us and all of us will respond.
Jesus reveals the quality of this response too. The response will be us loving as God loves; to see the goodness within all things, within all people and to want that goodness to shine through too.
We heard Isaiah talking about this; in our outreach to the hungry and poor, in our work to speak with honesty and clarity. The effect is that we will want to love others.
So we know that we that have accepted God’s love when we note changes within ourselves; changes that improve our relationship with others.
Changes of moving away from self-centeredness and egotism, to humility, compassion, mercy, self-giving.
Changes in which we are willing to go out of our way and help others, forgive others, give up trying to control everyone and everything; letting go of the fear; trusting.
When this happens, then we are truly free. We have experienced the salvation of Christ.
How fast that happens, I don’t know.
I think it depends on each one of us, and our own journeys. I know for myself, it has been a slow, arduous passage; and it always seems the chaos, darkness and void are very, very close.
So we have to respect each other’s journey and response. We have to support one another in this.
Thus we need the Eucharist as part of our journey to fully experience salvation. We need to be church, a community, centered on the love of God made flesh and blood in the bread and wine.
We need come together and be fed together, and then go on together.
We need this sacrament of love, to be re-affirmed again and again that we are loved, because we also know that there are others out there who strive to deny the goodness of others. We know that that chaos and darkness can return at times, and overwhelm us, and we forget ourselves.
We need this sacrament to be re-affirmed in the goodness of others; those who have celebrated with us; those celebrating throughout this city, diocese and world; and all people.
We need this sacrament to remember our own response, as a person and people; to remember the light within, the way we can add flavor to our world; to be change and to effect change.
And it begins with that simple tenet of our faith: God is love.