Angelus Address: On Being Salt of the Earth and Light of the World

“Keep away the polluting germs of egoism, of envy, of malicious gossip”

Angelus 30 August 2015

PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO

Pope Francis invites Christians to “keep away the polluting germs of egoism, of envy, of malicious gossip”. Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave before the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square, this Sunday February 5th 2017: “Therefore, the mission of Christians in society is to give “flavour” to life with the faith and love that Christ has given us.”

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Before the Angelus 

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning! 

In these Sundays the liturgy proposes to us the so-called Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew’s Gospel. After having presented the Beatitudes last Sunday, today it highlights Jesus’ words, which describe the mission of His disciples in the world (cf. Matthew 5:13-16). He uses the metaphor of salt and light, and His words are addressed to disciples of all times, hence also to us. 

Jesus invites us to be a reflection of His light, through the testimony of good works. He says: ”Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). These words underline that we are recognizable as true disciples of Him who is Light of the world, not in words, but by our works. In fact, it is above all our behavior that — in the good and in the bad – leaves a sign in others. Hence we have a task and a responsibility for the gift received: the light of faith, which is in us through Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit, we must not keep as if it were our property. Instead, we are called to make it shine in the world, to give it to others through good works. And how much the world needs the light of the Gospel, which transforms, heals and guarantees salvation to those who receive it! We must take this light with our good works. 

By giving itself, the light of our faith is not extinguished but reinforced. Instead, it can fail if we do not nourish it with love and with works of charity. Thus the image of light meets with that of salt. In fact, the evangelical page tells us that, as Christ’s disciples, we are also “the salt of the earth” (v. 13). Salt is an element that, while it gives flavour, preserves food from alteration and corruption — there were no fridges in Jesus’ time! Therefore, the mission of Christians in society is to give “flavour” to life with the faith and love that Christ has given us, and at the same time to keep away the polluting germs of egoism, of envy, of malicious gossip, and so on. These germs ruin the fabric of our communities, which instead should shine as places of hospitality, of solidarity and of reconciliation. To fulfil this mission, it is necessary first of all that we ourselves are liberated from the corrupting degeneration of worldly influences, which are contrary to Christ and the Gospel; and this purification never ends, it goes on every day! 

Each one of us is called to be light and salt in the environment of our daily life, persevering in the task of regenerating the human reality in the spirit of the Gospel and in the perspective of the Kingdom of God. May the protection of Mary Most Holy, first disciple of Jesus and model, be of help to believers who live every day their vocation and mission in history. May our Mother help us to let ourselves always be purified and illumined by the Lord, to become in turn “salt of the earth” and “light of the world.” 

[Original text: Italian]

Translation by ZENIT, Virginia M. Forrester

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