Pope Francis          

23.05.13   Holy Mass  Santa Marta        

Mark  9: 41 - 50 

Salt is something good... which the Lord created; but if the salt has lost its flavour, how shall its saltiness be restored?

This refers to the salt of faithhope and charity. The Lord gives us this salt. What can we do to prevent salt from losing its power? The savour of Christian salt comes from the certainty of the faith, hope and charity that springs from the awareness “that Jesus rose for us” and saved us. But this certainty was not given to us so that we might simply keep it. If that were so, the salt would end up being kept in a bottle: “it doesn't do anything, it doesn't serve any purpose”. On the contrary, the purpose of salt is to give things flavour.

But salt also has another trait: when “it is used well, one does not taste the flavour of salt”. Thus salt does not change the flavour of things; rather “the taste of every dish is noticed”. It is improved and it becomes more savoury. “And this is Christian originality: when we proclaim the faith with this salt, all those who receive it do so with their distinctive features, like different foods”.

Nevertheless, Christian originality is not uniform... it takes everyone for who he is.

In the service of people: give it, give it, give it!... Salt is not preserved only by giving it in preaching. It needs transcendence, prayer and adoration.


Pope Francis          

09.02.14  Angelus, St Peter's Square      

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A      

Matthew 5: 13-16  

Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In this Sunday’s Gospel passage, immediately after the Beatitudes, Jesus says to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:13-14). This surprises us a bit when we think of those who were before Jesus when he spoke these words. Who were these disciples? They were fishermen, simple people... But Jesus sees them with God’s eyes, and his assertion can be understood precisely as a result of the Beatitudes. He wishes to say: if you are poor in spirit, if you are meek, if you are pure of heart, if you are merciful... you will be the salt of the earth and the light of the world!

To better understand these images, we must keep in mind that Jewish Law prescribed that a little bit of salt be sprinkled over every offering presented to God, as a sign of the covenant. Light for Israel was a symbol of messianic revelation, triumph over the darkness of paganism. Christians, the new Israel, receive a mission to carry into the world for all men: through faith and charity they can guide, consecrate, and make humanity fruitful. We who are baptized Christians are missionary disciples and we are called to become a living Gospel in the world: with a holy life we will “flavour” different environments and defend them from decay, as salt does; and we will carry the light of Christ through the witness of genuine charity. But if we Christians lose this flavour and do not live as salt and light, we lose our effectiveness. This mission of giving light to the world is so beautiful! We have this mission, and it is beautiful! It is also beautiful to keep the light we have received from Jesus, protecting it and safeguarding it. The Christian should be a luminous person; one who brings light, who always gives off light! A light that is not his, but a gift from God, a gift from Jesus. We carry this light. If a Christian extinguishes this light, his life has no meaning: he is a Christian by name only, who does not carry light; his life has no meaning. I would like to ask you now, how do you want to live? As a lamp that is burning or one that is not? Burning or not? How would you like to live? [The people respond: Burning!] As burning lamps! It is truly God who gives us this light and we must give it to others. Shining lamps! This is the Christian vocation. 


Pope Francis       

05.02.17  Angelus St Peter's Square     

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A    

Matthew 5: 13-16 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

These Sundays the liturgy offers us the so-called Sermon on the Mount, in the Gospel of Matthew. After presenting the Beatitudes last Sunday, today [Matthew] emphasizes Jesus’ words describing his disciples’ mission in the world. (cf. Mt 5:13-16). He uses the metaphors of salt and light, and his words are directed to the disciples of every age, therefore also to us.

Jesus invites us to be a reflection of his light, by witnessing with 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” (v. 16). These words emphasize that we are recognizable as true disciples of the One who is the Light of the World, not in words, but by our works. Indeed, it is above all our behaviour that — good or bad — leaves a mark on others. Therefore, we have a duty and a responsibility towards the gift received: the light of the faith, which is in us through Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit; and we must not withhold it as if it were our property. Instead we are called to make it shine throughout the world, to offer it to others through good works. How much the world needs the light of the Gospel which transforms, heals and guarantees salvation to those who receive it! We must convey this light through our good works.

The light of our faith, in giving of oneself, does not fade but strengthens. However it can weaken if we do not nourish it with love and with charitable works. In this way the image of light complements that of salt. The Gospel passage, in fact, tells us that, as disciples of Christ, we are also “the salt of the earth” (v. 13). Salt is an ingredient which, while it gives flavour, keeps food from turning and spoiling — in Jesus’ time there were no refrigerators! Thus, Christians’ mission in society is that of giving “flavour” to life with the faith and the love that Christ has given us, and at the same time, keeping away the contaminating seeds of selfishness, envy, slander, and so on. These seeds degrade the fabric of our communities, which should instead shine as places of welcome, solidarity and reconciliation. To fulfil this mission, it is essential that we first free ourselves from the corruptive degeneration of worldly influences contrary to Christ and to the Gospel; and this purification never ends, it must be done continuously; it must be done 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 there always be the helpful protection of Mary Most Holy, first disciple of Jesus and model for believers who live their vocation and mission each day in history. May our Mother help us to let ourselves always be purified and enlightened by the Lord, so as to become, in our turn, “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”. 


Pope Francis 


12.06.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta      

Mathew 5: 13-16 

Christian witness is meant to edify others and not to serve as path to self-promotion.

Christians are called to provide simple, habitual witness to Jesus; “everyday holiness.”

Christian witness, can mean giving one’s life in martyrdom, after Jesus’ example. But another path is to point to Christ in our everyday actions, when we wake, work, and go to bed.

It seems like such a small thing but miracles are done through small things.

Christian witness must be grounded in humility, which means being simple salt and light for others.

Salt for others; light for others: Because salt does not give flavour to itself but serves others. Light does not illuminate itself but serves others… Supermarkets sell salt in small quantities, not by the ton. And salt does not promote itself because it doesn’t serve itself. It exists to serve others, by conserving things and giving flavour. This is simple witness.

Daily Christian witness means being light for others, “to help them in their darkest hour.”

The Lord says: ‘You are salt; you are light.’… But do so in order that others see and glorify God. You will not even receive any merit. When we eat, we don’t compliment the salt. No, we say the pasta or meat is good… When we go to sleep at night, we don’t say the light is good. We ignore the light, but we live illuminated by light. This impels Christians to be anonymous witnesses.

Do not act like the Pharisee who thanks the Lord for his holiness. We are not the authors of our own merits.

Everyday holiness means being salt and light for others.


Pope Francis       

09.02.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square      

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A     

Matthew 5: 13-16   

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In today's Gospel (cf. Mt 5:13-16), Jesus says to his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world" (vv. 13.14). He uses symbolic language not so much to give a definition of the disciple but to set out for those who wish to follow Him certain criteria for living their mission in the world. 

The first image: salt. Salt is the component that gives flavour and that stores and preserves food from corruption. The disciple is therefore called to keep society away from the dangers, and the corrosive elements that pollute people's lives. It is a question of resisting sin and moral degradation, and bearing witness to the values of honesty and fraternity, without giving in to the worldly enticements of careerism, power and wealth. The disciple is "salt" who, despite the daily failures – because we all have them – rises from the dust of their own mistakes, starting again with courage and patience, every day, to seek dialogue and encounter with others. A disciple is "salt" who does not seek approval and praise, but strives to be a humble and constructive presence, in fidelity to the teachings of Jesus who came into the world not to be served, but to serve. And this attitude is greatly needed! 

The second image that Jesus offers to His disciples is that of light: "You are the light of the world." The light disperses the darkness and allows you to see. Jesus is the light that has dispelled the darkness, but it still remains in the world and in individual people. It is the task of the Christian to dispel it further by making Christ's light shine among others and by proclaiming His Gospel. This outpouring of light can come from our words, but it must come mainly from our 'good deeds' (see 16). A disciple and a Christian community are the light of the world when they direct others to God, helping each person to experience His goodness and mercy. A disciple of Jesus is light when he or she knows how to live their faith outside of confined spaces, helping to eliminating prejudices, eliminating slander, and in bringing the light of truth into situations tainted by hypocrisy and lies. You must be the light. But it is not my own light, it is the light of Jesus : we are instruments of Jesus and we must radiate His light to reach everyone.

Jesus invites us not to be afraid to live in the world, even if there are sometimes conditions of conflict and sin in it. In the face of violence, injustice and oppression, Christians cannot shut up within themselves in or hide in the security of their own enclosure; even the Church cannot shut up within herself, she cannot abandon her mission of evangelization and service. Jesus, in the Last Supper, asked the Father not to remove the disciples from the world, to leave them, there, in the world, but to guard them from the spirit of the world. The Church gives generously and tenderly for the least and the poor: this is not the spirit of the world, this is her light, she is salt. The Church hears the cry of the least and the excluded, because she is aware of being a pilgrim community called to extend throughout history the saving presence of Jesus Christ.

May the Blessed Virgin helps us to be salt and light in the world, bringing to everyone, in life and word, the Good News of God's love. 


Pope Francis       

05.02.23 Holy Mass John Garang Mausoleum, Juba  

Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan 

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A  

1 Corinthians 2: 1-5

Matthew 5: 13-16

Today I would like to make my own the words that the Apostle Paul addressed to the community of Corinth in the second reading and repeat them here before you: “When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:1-2). Yes, Paul’s concern is also mine, as I gather here with you in the name of Jesus Christ, the God of love, the God who achieved peace through his cross; Jesus, the God crucified for us all; Jesus, crucified in those who suffer; Jesus, crucified in the lives of so many of you, in so many people in this country; Jesus, the risen Lord, the victor over evil and death. I have come here to proclaim him and to confirm you in him, for the message of Christ is a message of hope. Jesus knows your anguish and the hope you bear in your hearts, the joys and struggles that mark your lives, the darkness that assails you and the faith that, like a song in the night, you raise to heaven. Jesus knows you and loves you. If we remain in him, we must never fear, because for us too, every cross will turn into a resurrection, every sadness into hope, and every lament into dancing.

I would like to reflect, then, on the words of life that our Lord Jesus spoke to us in today’s Gospel: “You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:13-14). What do these images say to us, as disciples of Christ?

First of all, that we are the salt of the earth. Salt is used to season food. It is the unseen ingredient that gives flavour to everything. Precisely for this reason, since ancient times, salt has been a symbol of wisdom, a virtue that cannot be seen, but that adds zest to life, which without it becomes insipid, tasteless. Yet what kind of wisdom does Jesus mean? He uses the image of salt immediately after teaching his disciples the Beatitudes. We see, then, that the Beatitudes are the salt of the Christian life, because they bring the wisdom of heaven down to earth. They revolutionize the standards of this world and our usual way of thinking. And what do they say? In a word, they tell us that to be blessed, to be happy and fulfilled, we must not aim to be strong, rich and powerful, but humble, meek, merciful; to do no evil to anyone, but to be peacemakers for everyone. This, Jesus says, is the wisdom of a disciple; it is what gives flavour to the world around us. Let us remember this: if we put the Beatitudes into practice, if we embody the wisdom of Christ, we will give savour not only to our own lives, but also to the life of society and of the country in which we live.

Salt does not only bring out flavor; it also has another function, which was essential at the time of Christ: it preserves food so that it does not spoil and go bad. The Bible had said that there is one “food”, one essential good that is to be preserved above all others, and that is the covenant with God. So in those days, whenever an offering was made to the Lord, a little salt was added to it. Let us hear what Scripture says about this: “You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be lacking from your cereal offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt” (Lev 2:13). Salt thus served as a reminder of our basic need to preserve our relationship with God, because he is faithful to us, and his covenant with us is incorruptible, inviolable and enduring (cf. Num 18:19; 2 Chr 13:5). It follows that every disciple of Jesus, as the salt of the earth, is a witness to the covenant that God has made and that we celebrate in every Mass: a new, eternal and unbreakable covenant (cf. 1 Cor 11:25; Heb 9), and a love for us that cannot be shaken even by our infidelity.

Brothers and sisters, we are witnesses to this wonder. In ancient times, when people or peoples established a pact of friendship with one another, they often sealed it by exchanging a little salt. As the salt of the earth, we are called to bear witness to the covenant with God with joy and gratitude, and thus show that we are people capable of creating bonds of friendship and fraternal living. People capable of building good human relationships as a way of curbing the corruption of evil, the disease of division, the filth of fraudulent business dealings and the plague of injustice.

Today I would like to thank you, because you are the salt of the earth in this country. Yet, when you consider its many wounds, the violence that increases the venom of hatred, and the injustice that causes misery and poverty, you may feel small and powerless. Whenever that temptation assails you, try looking at salt and its tiny grains. Salt is a tiny ingredient and, once placed on food, it disappears, it dissolves; yet precisely in that way it seasons the whole dish. In the same way, even though we are tiny and frail, even when our strength seems paltry before the magnitude of our problems and the blind fury of violence, we Christians are able to make a decisive contribution to changing history. Jesus wants us to be like salt: a mere pinch dissolves and gives a different flavour to everything. Consequently, we cannot step back, because without that little pinch, without our small contribution, everything becomes insipid. So let us start from the little things, the essential things, not from what may appear in the history books, but from what changes history. In the name of Jesus and of his Beatitudes, let us lay down the weapons of hatred and revenge, in order to take up those of prayer and charity. Let us overcome the dislikes and aversions that over time have become chronic and risk pitting tribes and ethnic groups against one another. Let us learn to apply the salt of forgiveness to our wounds; salt burns but it also heals. Even if our hearts bleed for the wrongs we have suffered, let us refuse, once and for all, to repay evil with evil, and we will grow healthy within. Let us accept one another and love one another with sincerity and generosity, as God loves us. Let us cherish the good that we are, and not allow ourselves to be corrupted by evil!

Let us now pass to the second image used by Jesus, which is light: You are the light of the world. A great prophecy was told of Israel: “I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Is 49:6). Now that prophecy has been fulfilled, because God the Father has sent his Son, who is the light of the world (cf. Jn 8:12), the true light that enlightens every person and every people, the light that shines in the darkness and dispels every cloud of gloom (cf. Jn 1:5.9). Jesus, the light of the world, tells his disciples that they, too, are the light of the world. This means that, when we receive the light of Christ, the light that is Christ, we become “luminous”; we radiate the light of God!

Jesus goes on to say: “A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house” (Mt 5:15). Again, this was a familiar image in those days. Many villages in Galilee were built on hillsides and were visible from a great distance. Lamps in houses were placed high up, so that they could illumine all the corners of a room. When a lamp was extinguished, it was covered with a piece of terracotta called a “bushel”, which deprived the flame of oxygen and thus put out its light.

Brothers and sisters, it is clear what Jesus means by asking us to be the light of the world: we, who are his disciples, are called to shine forth like a city set on a hill, like a lamp whose flame may never be extinguished. In other words, before we worry about the darkness surrounding us, before we hope that the shadows around us will lighten, we are called to radiate light, to give brightness to our cities, our villages and homes, our acquaintances and all our daily activities by our lives and good works. The Lord will give us strength, the strength to be light in him, so that everyone will see our good works, and seeing them, as Jesus reminds us, they will rejoice in God and give him glory. If we live like sons and daughters, brothers and sisters on earth, people will come to know that all of us have a Father in heaven. We are being asked, then, to burn with love, never to let our light be extinguished, never to let the oxygen of charity fade from our lives so that the works of evil can take away the pure air of our witness. This country, so beautiful yet ravaged by violence, needs the light that each one of you has, or better, the light that each one of you is.

Dear brothers and sisters, I pray that you will be salt that spreads, dissolves and seasons South Sudan with the fraternal taste of the Gospel. May your Christian communities shine radiantly, so that, like cities built on a hill, they will shed the light of goodness on all and show that it is beautiful and possible to live with generosity and self-giving, to have hope, and together to build a reconciled future. Brothers and sisters, I am with you and I assure you of my prayer that you will experience the joy of the Gospel, the savour and the light that the Lord, “the God of peace” (Phil 4:9), the “God of all consolation” (2 Cor 1:3), desires to pour out upon every one of you.

05.02.23 m