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In today's Gospel Jesus challenges us in a positive way to think again about the living out of our Christian faith. He affirms us in who we are: "You are the salt of the earth.... you are the light of the world." He reminds us that we have been given the responsibility of Christian living but with the freedom to put it into practice in our lives or not.

Jesus has placed his gospel into our hands and it depends on all of us, whether or not it is proclaimed. His message is seen for what it is when we put it into practice in our lives. People who take their faith seriously may be unaware of the effect they have on others, but their influence does not go un-noticed. There is a warmth and an attractiveness about those whose good deeds and behaviour reflect the image of Jesus, the light of the world. The presence of a genuine Christ-like character enriches a community and allows the best in all of us to come forth.

But what does it mean to be "salt" and "light"? Just as salt gives flavour and adds taste then we, as salt, should have a positive influence, and make an impact on life where we find ourselves. Just as light shines out in the darkness, however small its flame, we too should be shining examples of the love, care and the forgiveness of Jesus. What Jesus actually asks of us is that we live our lives fully as Christians in the circumstances in which we live: married or single, young or old, working or retired. All of us are asked to have the values of Christ - love, honesty, integrity, generosity, and truth. Then our good example will not go unnoticed, and it may be an encouragement to others to do the same.

In the first reading the prophet Isaiah gives some practical examples of how we can be "the light of the world." He says:

"If you do away with the yoke,

the clenched fist, the wicked word,

if you give your bread to the hungry,

and relief to the oppressed,

your light will rise in the darkness."

This message is for all of us. When Jesus said "You are the salt of the earth.... You are the light of the world," he was speaking to us all.

There is little doubt that many public figures, ranging from religious and political leaders to Sport and T.V. personalities, have an influence on our lives. But the people who influence us most are much closer to home. Parents influence their children. The values held by a mother and a father will inevitably affect the lives of their sons and daughters. Teachers make an impact on the minds of their students. Young people greatly influence each other. Peer pressure, both positive and negative, remains a powerful force that affects us all. There is ample scope

therefore for all of us to have a Christian influence on others. Or echoing the sentiments of Jesus in today’s gospel: we are all capable of letting our light shine in the sight of men and women, and letting others catch a glimpse of God through our good works.

Let us pray that during the coming week we will have a good influence on each other.

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