I had an opportunity to visit Newport, R.I. a city on the Atlantic coast, known for its summer residences for the rich and famous. The city has opulent mansions some of which are still inhabited while others are managed by the Preservation Society which collects tourist admissions and funds from other sources. Newport, Rhode Island once had 24 light houses that provided mariners a beacon of light warning them of danger.
In the gospel today, Jesus said of his followers that we are the salt of the earth but if salt loses its flavor, it is no longer good for anything. He also said we are the light of the world and that our light must shine, and in shining, reveal good deeds and glorify God.
What did Jesus have in mind when he said we are the salt of the earth? Yes, salt the condiment does provide a unique flavor to foods. But salt is also a preservative, and it seems to me that maybe Jesus had that in mind as well if not more so than salt as a flavoring. In ancient times and before the advent of ice and refrigeration, meats and fish were salted to preserve them so that they would last and not spoil.
As I passed several of the opulent mansions on my walk there were signs indicating that they were now in the hands of the Preservation Society. They were preserved but stood empty and the only life that they now contained was seen in the lines of tourists. In my eyes, they had lost their flavor, they were no longer a home but had become a museum. Is there a message in this for us today regarding our faith and our responsibility to ensure that it does not lose its flavor?
A light house was pointed out to me as one of two of the original 24 that guided mariners who approached the rocky Rhode Island coast. It operates today as a living museum where you can stay overnight and become a lighthouse keeper. I think Jesus had more in mind for us when he said we are the light of the world and we need to be actively shining our good deeds for all to see and in so doing, give glory to God.
We all know what salt is and can do, and we all know what light is and can do and from the two examples I used, we all know what can happen when they are no longer used in a way that God probably intended when he addressed his disciples and is addressing us today.
Be salt and ensure that the grace of our baptism remains vital and alive. Be a beacon of light so that others seeing it will be assured that all will be well, that all will be well.
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About Father Leo Polselli, C.S.C.
Father Leo Polselli, C.S.C. is Chaplain at the Father Peyton Center in Easton, MA. Before coming to Holy Cross Family Ministries he served as a teacher and a parish priest. He also served for six years as a General Assistant of the Congregation in Rome, Italy. Originally from Fall River, MA, Father Leo grew up with eight siblings. Gifted with several languages, he is able to serve the Brazilian, Cape Verdean, Portuguese, Spanish and Haitian communities. When he's not greeting everyone who comes to the Father Peyton Center, you can find him regularly reading newspapers!