Psalm 112: 1, 4-6 1 Hallelujah! Happy are they who fear God and have great delight in God’s commandments! Light shines in the darkness for the upright; the righteous are merciful and full of compassion. It is good for them to be generous in lending and to manage their affairs with justice. For they will never be shaken; the righteous will be kept in everlasting remembrance.
Light is important. Very. Especially regarding what you’re drinking. Let me explain:
I get up early, I have since I’ve attempted to overlap having kids and having degrees. That extra 60-90 minutes before littles get up gave me time to have some quiet and some study (and some coffee…LOTS). In order to get up early without being an inconvenience or a disturbance to anyone else, I learned how to do everything in the dark, from getting out of the bedroom and getting into workout clothes. I am one with the darkness.
One morning, when we lived in Louisiana, I woke up with my soft-music alarm, stretched, and sat up. It was four in the morning, and barely any light penetrated my cocoon of darkness. I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and stretched one more time. Then, I reached over to the large glass of water I prepared the night before, and, in the dark, started drinking like I did every morning. But then…there was a gentle bump against my lip. My sleepy state cruised straight into FULLY AWAKE and, as I lifted the glass to catch the minimal light through the blind from the street, all I could tell was that there was a mass in my water. The self-control I needed in that moment surfaced, and I did not scream. I took a deep breath, held it, let it out slowly and then gingerly and quietly rushed to the kitchen. Flipped on all the lights, and there it was: a very, very, very large cockroach floating atop my water. Dead, like Gregor Samsa at the end of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, but not due to starvation but to drowning.
Again, without making a noise, I dealt with the crime scene and quickly returned to schedule as usual.
Light is important. Very.
You, you are the light of the cosmos. A city being laid above a hill is not able to be hidden. No one lighting a lamp then places it under a basket but up on the lampstand, and it shines for all those in the house. In this way, let your light shine before people, in order that they may perceive your good works and may glorify your [Abba God] in the heavens. (vv. 14-16)
For Matthew, light is also very important, but for very different reasons than the one I experienced in the midst of the dark, tender moment between me and mi amada cucaracha. Matthew begins this narrative by telling us that Jesus continues his teaching to his disciples—still located among the hills as last week. This time Jesus is talking about salt and light and how both are necessary for the earth and the cosmos—this is how the disciples participate in the divine mission of God in the world. The disciples are to be the salt providing flavor to and preservation of the earth; salt that’s no longer salty is pointless, useless, and tossed out. This isn’t so much about people being rejected unto the furthest reaches of the universe and not so much about being condemned unto damnation. Rather, this is about assimilation to what is, the status-quo, nary making a wave or ruckus, never marching to a different beat, beige among beige. For instance, if the world is filled with injustice and the disciples go along with it, then they are as if they are no longer salty, they aren’t altering the flavor of the world, they aren’t adding dimension to it, they are refusing the full beauty and glory of the earth. If the world is unloving then the salt is the love of God brought by the peddlers of that love, the disciples, those grafted into the great line of prophets.
Then Jesus mentions they’re to be the light. The light is not best used under a basket, hidden from the sight of others. Rather, it is to light up the darkness, cut through the banality of life, illuminate dimness, awaken to alertness, and expose humanity and show us where the very, very, very large insects are. (Because they might just be floating in our water!) Not only does the light emanate outward into the cosmos, but the light also draws in from the cosmos. The city on the hill (playing with the imagery laying out in front of him with the disciples among the hill) will be the city letting their light so shine that others are drawn to it. This light is love and this love is of God. Thus, this is no closed group, sequestered away from humanity, refusing the familiarity of humanity, consumed with their own private righteousness; rather this group is open, having porous boundaries, welcoming those who’ve come from afar to admire the light, to feel the light warm their faces and exhausted bodies, to give them hope, to give them peace, to give them mercy, to give them the very love of Abba God.
In this way the disciples’ righteousness and execution of justice will exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus tells the disciples that the law is not going anywhere; it’s here to stay. But it’s not about meeting each of the 613 mitzvot; it’s about God, God’s love, God’s justice in the world, the kingdom of heaven come close to humanity. In other words, Jesus promises fulfillment of the law not by doing it all but by comprehending the deeper meaning of the law, that it entails. This isn’t merely about our obedience to be clean and pure according to the law allowing the law to dethrone God and force humanity to be in service to the law. Rather, Jesus’s promised fulfillment of the law is about putting it in its rightful place in service to people thus bringing glory to God in that it directs the people of God to God, thus to the love of God, thus to the love of the neighbor. In other words, Jesus doesn’t abrogate the law but defines it for the disciples: this is not the law of ritual purity but the law of love.
Salt makes food better and it can even preserve it. Light gives assurance to the step and can even prevent us from consuming that which we shouldn’t. In this moment, we are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This is our calling, beloved. But this is not our calling because somehow we have to muster up our saltiness or our illuminative parts like fireflies in the middle of a summer night. Rather, our saltiness and our illumination come from our union with God in faith, it comes from our encounter with God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is the fruit of our new life. And this fruit is not for our consumption alone, but to share out in the world with everyone. And this relatedness of our being with others is the principal point of being salt and light…it is for others, for the love of others.
“Love needs the presence and involvement of another being; love cannot exist without the other. Self-sufficiency is a concept of the lonely and unrelated person. To conceive of creation in the framework of unrelatedness is to deprive creation of its most central element—love. Whatever meaning we find in the concept of creation, in a creator, and in our having been created hinges on love. The concept of creation is rendered empty and meaningless if it is not out of love that God created the world.”Dorothee Sölle
You, beloved, are the salt and the light because you are the beloved, the ones who are so radically loved by the creator of the cosmos—the one who flung all the great lights into the night sky and nestled each grain of that savory mineral among water and rocks. And because you have been so loved by such a One, you get to partake in this sharing of salt and light on the earth and within the cosmos by sharing that divine love with others here, and outside these walls. And, maybe, especially with those outside of these walls. Let us so share our salt and light with the world, bringing to the world the love of Abba God, saying to those whom we meet, “O taste and see that [God] is good; happy are those who take refuge in [God]” (Ps 34:8).
 Translation mine unless otherwise noted.
 Anna Case-Winters Matthew Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible Eds Amy Plantinga Pauw and William C. Placher. Louisville, KY: WJK, 2015. 78-79. “It is prefaced with ‘salt and light’ sayings addressed to the disciples in a way that points them toward their mission in the world. Neither salt nor light exists tor its own sake. The salt needs to stay salty to fulfill its function and the light needs to be lifted up to give light. These metaphors imply a turning outward toward mission in the world.”
 Ernesto Cardenal The Gospel in Solentiname Trans. Donald D. Walsh. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2010. 94. “ADAN: ‘It seems to me it’s because every meal should have salt. A meal without salt has no taste. We must give taste to the world.’”
 R. T. France The Gospel of Matthew The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Gen. Ed Joel B. Green. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007. 174. “The two most significant uses of salt in the ancient world were for flavoring and for the preservation of food, and either or both of those uses would provide an appropriate sense here: the disciples are to provide flavor to the world they live in (perhaps with the thought of salt as wisdom, as in Col 4:6 and in some rabbinic sayings), and/or they are to help to prevent its corruption. The two ideas are not incompatible; disciples are to make the world a better place.”
 France, Matthew, 173. “Sir 39:26 lists salt as one of the essentials for human life; cf. Sop. 15:8, ‘The world cannot endure without salt.’ Disciples are no less essential to the well-being of “the earth,” which here refers to human life in general.”
 Cardenal, Solentiname, 94. “JULIO: ‘By liberating it. Because a world filled with injustice is tasteless. Mainly for the poor, life like that has no taste.’” And “OLIVIA: ‘It seems to me that the salt has got lost when instead of preserving justice on earth, Christians have let injustice multiply more… We Christians wanted to prevent that, but we haven’t. Instead, Christians have sided with injustice, with capitalism. We have sided with selfishness. We have been a useless salt.’” And “FELIPE: ‘Christianity that stopped being Christian, that’s the salt that doesn’t salt any more.’”
 Cardenal, Solentiname, 95. “MARCELINO: ‘I think that ‘salt’ is the Gospel word given to us so that we’ll practicing love, so that everybody will have it. Because salt is a thing that you never deny to anybody. When somebody is very stingy they say that he wouldn’t give you salt for a sour prune. That’s why Jesus says have salt, which means to have love shared out among everybody, and so we’ll have everything shared out, we’ll all be equal and we’ll live united and in peace.’”
 France, Matthew, 175. “Here the light which Jesus brings is also provided by his disciples, who will soon be commissioned to share in his ministry of proclamation and deliverance. Cf. the mission of God’s servant to be ‘a light to the nations’ (Isa 42:6; 49:6). The world needs that light, and it is through the disciples that it must be made visible. The world (kosmos; not the “earth,” gē, as in v. 13) again refers to the world of people, as the application in v. 16 makes clear; cf. the call to Christians to shine in the kosmos (Phil 2:15).”
 Case-Winters, Matthew, 79. “In passing, the illustration of a city set on a hill is also employed. The community of disciples cannot be a closed community, an ‘introverted secret society shielding itself from the world.’ Its witness Is public.”
 France, Matthew, 176. “The metaphor thus suited a variety of applications, but here the context indicates that it is about the effect which the life of disciples must have on those around them. It thus takes for granted that the ‘job description’ of a disciple is not fulfilled by private personal holiness, but includes the witness of public exposure.”
 France, Matthew, 177. “It is only as is distinctive lifestyle is visible to others that it can have its desired effect. But that effect is also now spelled out not as the improvement and enlightenment of society as such, but rather as the glorifying of God by those outside the disciple community. The subject of this discourse, and the aim of the discipleship which it promotes, is not so much the betterment of life on earth as implementation of the reign of God. The goal of disciples’ witness is not that others emulate their way of life. or applaud their probity, but that they recognize the source of their distinctive lifestyle in ‘Your Father in heaven.’”
 France, Matthew, 189. “The paradox of Jesus’ demand here makes sense only if their basic premise as to what ‘righteousness’ consists of is put in question. Jesus is not talking about beating the scribes and Pharisees at their own game, but about a different level or concept of righteousness altogether.”
 Case-Winters, Matthew, 80. “There is a balance of Jesus’ obligation to the law and the prophets and his authority to interpret their weightier matters. The commandments of the Torah are not all of the same weight. Jesus argues later that love and compassion for the neighbor outweighs matters such as cultic observance (12:1-14; 22:40). He chides the scribes and Pharisees because they ‘tithe the mint, dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy and faith.’ Jesus’ own life is an exemplar of attending to the weightier matters.”
 France, Matthew, 182. “In the light of Matthew’s use of this verb elsewhere, and the evident importance it has for his understanding of the relation between the authoritative words of the OT and their contemporary outworking, the sense here is not likely to be concerned either with Jesus’ actions in relation to the law or even his teaching about it, but rather the way in which he ‘fulfills’ the pattern laid down in the law and the prophets.”
 France, Matthew, 183. “In the light of that concept, and of the general sense of ‘fulfill’ in Matthew, we might then paraphrase Jesus’ words here as follows: ‘Far from wanting to set aside the law and the prophets, it is my role to bring into being that to which they have pointed forward, to carry them into a new era of fulfillment.’ On this understanding the authority of the law and the prophets is not abol1shed. They remain the authoritative word of God. But their role will no longer be the same, now that what they pointed forward to has come, and it will be for Jesus’ followers to discern in the light of his teaching and practice what is now the right way to apply those texts in the new situation which his coming has created. From now on it will be the authoritative teaching of Jesus which must govern his disciples’ understanding and practical application of the law.”
 Dorothee Sölle To Work and To Love: A Theology of Creation with Shirley A. Cloyes. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1984. 16