Christmas Day, December 25, 2022

By: The Rt. Rev. Vicente Salvador R. Ballesteros
Diocesan Bishop, Diocese of Greater Manila Area

Salt is the most famous and oldest ingredient known to humanity for its culinary endeavors: (1) As preservative to protect food from spoilage, and (2) As flavor enhancer to make food more palatable. Its saltiness is one of the five basic flavors known to the human tongue: saltiness, sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and spicy. Its crucial role in maintaining and sustaining the health of humans stems from the sodium and chloride ion components – sodium for the smooth and regular flow of blood through the blood vessels and the proper functioning of the muscles.  So an overdose of salt in food intake causes hypertension (known as high blood), as well as kidney and heart problems. Chloride ions, on the other hand, serve as electrolytes regulating the blood pressure. Hence, the combination of sodium chloride or salt serves to balance the fluid circulation in the human body.   

But salt is also used in the biblical analogy to describe people to put order in this world; as Jesus taught His disciples: “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Mt. 5:13). What does this mean?  As food preservative, the disciples were asked to stop the moral decay of the sin-infected society/world.  What happens to the salt if it loses its saltiness?  Nothing!  We are inutile as Christians if we cannot stand with the convictions of our faith in God.  If we are the true children of the Light (Mt. 5:14), we live according to the Light and not the darkness of sin; to rejoice with the truth and not lies or fraudulence.  As true servants of the Lord, we stand as faithful witnesses of God in all times, in all things, and in all places where we are situated. 

Amidst the many challenges and pressures to compromise with falsehood, deceit, or evil, we stand courageous and firm in our convictions never giving in to human sins. As true believers of our Good Lord, we should not “be conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2).  As Christians, we must not allow the world to change us; but rather, it is us who should change the world in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel and the dictates of the Holy Spirit. St Paul admonishes, “It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” (1 Cor. 4: 1-2). So if we know our real nature and acknowledge ourselves as the true stewards of God, we must be faithful to our true Christian nature, complying with the Covenant of Faithfulness expected of God from His own chosen people.  

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is an absolute necessity for us to know who we truly are and our expected roles in life.  Without doubts, we should know our mission roles in this world.  Le us cite some examples of biblical persons who played major roles in the Christmas Story:

  1. St. John the Baptist – the forerunner of Jesus Christ.  His message was loud and clear; his lifestyle was solid as a rock; and his mission was definitive and certain: “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” (Lk. 3).  We must repent as the judgement of God is near!  St. John challenges us to correct our faults and embark on our own personal reform – providing us warnings to straighten our lives and rectify ourselves in preparation for the coming of the Lord.
  2. St. Gabriel the Archangel – the messenger of God. He was God’s chosen emissary to proclaim the good news to the Blessed Mary that she would become the Mother of Jesus, the Anointed Savior of the world. (Lk.1: 26-38)
  3. Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph – earthly parents of the Lord Jesus.  Despite each having specific personal plans in their lives, both accepted the Call of God to be the parents of the Incarnate Lord and to become instruments in His plan of salvation of humanity.  They gave importance to the Plan of God instead of their own personal plans; without fully knowing the extent of their responsibilities as stewards of the Son of God. (Lk.1: 26-38) 
  4. Shepherds watching their flock at night – first receivers of the Good News of the birth of Jesus.  The Gospel message was clear that they were awake and watching their sheep out on the fields. (Lk. 2: 8-20). Out in the cold of the night, tired and sleepy, they patiently guarded their flock amidst the hostile environment in order to protect their sheep.  They were doing their job; were chosen to receive the Good News; went to Bethlehem to bear witness to the truth of the Savior’s birth; and then praised God for His greatness, spreading this glory to all they encountered. 
  5. Jesus Christ – the Savior (“Anointed One”).  He knew the bitter role entrusted upon Him, though He initially said, “Father, remove this Cup from me; but Your will shall be done.”  He knew that as the “Anointed One,” He was destined to suffer and die to redeem humanity from sin and to overcome mortality which led to the immortal life in the Kingdom of God.

With life lessons from these five important biblical characters, may we be inspired by their exemplary roles; as I conclude with a prayer for all that we be like them, as Christian salt of the earth.  May we all follow their road to faithfulness, rather than the road to popularity. It is true that it is a real struggle to go against the flow of life’s current (tide), but with the strength of the Holy Spirit, may we stand firm with conviction for what is correct and righteous.  May we speak for the truth, goodness, and justice – standing up for the Lord amidst our family and friends? Our company? Our country? May we witness with conviction and fulfill our individual and collective missions according to the Will of God.  With this fulfillment, may we be worthy of the Gift of Redemption, Salvation, and Life Everlasting! Amen! Amen! Amen!





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