Salt and Light
I read the news that Eric Lawson has died of lung cancer at 72 years old. He was the famous actor who portrayed the rugged Marlboro man in cigarette ads during the late 1970s. Because of him, the Marlboro brand became well-known throughout the world. In fact, it became the most powerful brand image of the century and stands worldwide as the ultimate American cowboy and masculine trademark that helped establish Marlboro as the best-selling cigarette in the world.
He was perfect for the ads with his ruggedly handsome features, filmed in stunning, picturesque setting in the West. He represented a true American icon and became the most iconic figures in both advertising and popular culture.
A smoker since he was 14, he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006. Later, he also became a perfect role model who made a difference in the lives of the people he kept from smoking simply by pointing out what it did to him, said John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society.
Appearing in anti-smoking commercials, he also joined TV forums and discussions on the dangers and negative effects of smoking. He realized that as an actor, he had great influence on people’s lives. He can be an influence of good or evil.
In today’s Gospel (Mt. 5:13-16), Jesus reminds us that we are salt and light of the world. We are presented with 3 Challenges by God’s Word this Sunday:
1. We have the responsibility to Shine.
We have the responsibility to give light. This is our identity as Christians. This is who we are! We cannot but give light. If we fail in doing so, we are “good for nothing.” We are not being who we are!
After super typhoon Yolanda hit Bantayan Island, I went home to visit my hometown. I brought with me volunteers and relief goods to be distributed from many generous people. I saw how devastated the island was. Most houses were without roofs, no signal and all power lines were down.
I requested Fr. Bobby Paraguya, the parish priest of San Vicente Ferrer in Kampinganon if we could stay for the night in his convent. We were not only accommodated well, he also went out of his way to make our stay pleasant. He even put on the parish generator. While most of the island was dark, we had light from the generator until 10 PM. The generator has the ability to give light. That’s what we are. We generate light!
2. We have the power to give the world a different flavor.
Once, I was invited to a birthday dinner. I was asked to bless the food at the start of the meal. Then everybody joined in the singing of “Happy Birthday” to the birthday celebrant. Then somebody said: “Blow the candles!” But there were no candles to blow! There was no birthday cake because the person assigned forgot about it.
If you go to Goldilocks or Leona’s, you can choose different kinds of cake, different flavors: ube, chocolate, mango, strawberry..
Now, each of us metaphorically, needs to bake our own cake to offer to the world. You choose the flavor you want. Its your contribution to the world. That’s how we become salt of the earth.
3. Finally, in all these, we need to purify our motives in shining or giving flavor to the world.
We shine or we give the world a different flavor not just for the sake of doing it; its not even for ourselves. The deepest reason is given by Jesus in today’s Gospel. We do it for God’s greater glory.
As we shine and show our good deeds, God is glorified. it gives people the opportunity to say: “Praise the Lord!” Thus we need to purify our motives every time we do good.