Thursday 2 February 2023

Blessing, Seasoning, Enlightening

You are blessed. You, a child of God, are blessed, just as you are. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not. You are.

I feel I’ve said this before. And I have, repeatedly, and it bears repeating again. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Jesus does, too.

A crowd gathers to hear Jesus speak. (Later, this’ll be recorded in Matthew’s gospel as the Sermon on the Mount.) I think he looked at the crowd and saw a lot of hurting and broken people, people who were grieving, people who were struggling or lost in a world of oppression and hurt, people looking for a word of hope, and he began with just that: you are blessed. It can be difficult to see that when all those things cast such a big shadow over our lives, but even in those darkest moments - especially in those moments - we need to know we are blessed by God’s presence in spirit, in the hands of those who care and comfort, in the lives of those who work for justice and peace, in every heart that loves. You are blessed.

And he didn’t stop there. You are more. You are salt of the earth and the light of the world. Ever know someone who’s the salt of the earth? How about someone who just lights up a room? Or someone who’s a bright star, a leading light in their field or community? The answer should be yes, you do. In fact, Jesus is telling you that you see that person in the mirror because you are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. You can see it in all around you, because they are, too. 

We’ve come to understand those sayings as describing a certain individual who embodies certain characteristics. Someone who’s the salt of the earth is good, honest and true, an example of the best characteristics of humanity. A bright star or a light is similar, it’s about the person and how they stand out as an extraordinary example of a particular gift or skill. But I think Jesus is suggesting those very blessings are already in all of us. For Jesus, being salt and light are about being action.

Both flavour or illuminate what they come in contact with in a way that enhances and enlightens. It’s action that’s about more than the individual, it’s about how we are in relationship with the world around us, the community of which we are a part. It’s about how we can bring out the flavours of our world, enlighten ourselves and our relationships, shine a light on the pathway forward. And that’s the next step.

Jesus goes on to say that he isn’t trying to get rid of the Law and the Prophets, the core of Jewish life and tradition. He’s not meaning to replace it with something new or different, but to fulfill it, to live what’s at the heart of the law. That’s how relationships are built, that’s how we become community with each other and creation, that’s how “the kingdom” comes.

How, exactly? Well, he’ll go on to talk about it in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount and on other occasions. Most importantly, he’ll live it. Not as an unachievable example of holiness, but in a very down to earth, everyday way that we’re all capable of. After all, we are blessed, we are salt and light, we have every opportunity to create a world of love and grace.