In the post Super Bowl interviews this year there were a sizable number of those interviewed who gave a personal witness to their faith in God. Team owners, coaches, and players alike gave glory to God for the joyous celebration that they were experiencing. These individuals chose not to highlight their individual accomplishments but rather chose to point to the team effort that had helped them to achieve their highest goals. It was truly encouraging and inspiring to see so many individuals glorifying God for their success and not taking credit for their success in a selfish way. Human beings are truly at their greatest when they are being humble and gracious.
The message expressed in giving thanks and glorifying God is not that God has chosen to give victory to one team over another but rather that God has given a person the strength and perseverance to achieve victory over oneself. Our true battle and struggle in life is to not defeat ourself through self-serving behavior. If we are thinking only of ourselves, placing our own selfish interests above others and showing no respect for others then we are already defeated. Our lives will become worthless, like salt that has lost its flavor. As disciples of Jesus we are called to give personal witness to God and to give our lives in service to a greater good, one that we can not realize on our own. Jesus did not point to himself in his preaching and healing but rather always pointed to the presence of the Father. Jesus tells his disciples in the gospel of John: “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.” (Jn 14,10f) Jesus always points beyond himself to glorify the Father and he emphasizes that by himself, he could do nothing. As Christians we are called to be formed in the image of Jesus and to glorify God the Father in all that we do, just as Jesus did.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth.” (Mt 5,13) To be salt means to be what we are and to do what we are meant to do. Salt is meant to bring flavor to life and to purify and preserve what it touches. The presence of salt improves all things around it. Disciples are meant to make a difference in the world. They may feel small and insignificant but just a little bit of presence in the world makes the world a better place. The disciple should live in such a manner that they help others to enjoy life more. Life is not meant to be dull, bland and tasteless. When a disciple lives his life as salt, filled with the Spirit and its gifts, then all people benefit and life becomes more sublime. A disciple that is supportive, helpful, kind and generous will salt the world and all those around them and help them to find meaning and purpose in their lives. If a disciple would salt the world with kind remarks, a generous nature and helpful attitudes then they would slowly be transforming the world. The presence of the disciple in the world purifies the world and makes it a holy place. Disciples are called to be holy, and like salt, they purify and preserve our society from evil. Where there is the salted disciple there is no corruption or decay. St. Paul exhorts the Colossians, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you know how you should respond to each one.” (Col 4,6) As disciples, salt of the earth, we help others to live a more meaningful and joyful life, empowered by the Spirit to build one another up in love.
Jesus also tells us disciples, “You are the light of the world.” (Mt 5,14) Light reveals truth. Light helps us to see and discover the true nature of things. Light makes things luminous and beautiful and it brings beauty into the world. Light casts out darkness and it helps others to walk in the world without losing their way. Light brings with it joy and the possibility for life. When there is light things grow and mature. Disciples are meant to bring light into the world and help others to grow and mature. They are meant to be a source of knowledge and truth. They help others see more clearly the presence of God in the world. God speaks through Isaiah the prophet and says, “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn.” (Is 58,7) These are actions visible to the world.
To salt the earth and to shine light in the darkness is to glorify God. Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis asserts that, “The deepest vocation of Christians is the continual glorification of God, both by themselves and, through themselves, by all others.” We glorify God by being perfectly ourselves, as God intended us to be and allowing God’s love and grace to shine through us and transform the world.