SALT OF THE EARTH
Mt. 5: 13-16
From my childhood, I have been a salt-a-holic and I don’f have high blood pressure! So what’s so great about salt? My mom cringed when I whitened my carrots. It just brings out the goodness, enhances the flavor and restores the electrolytes. Salt is good tasting and good for you, in moderation.
Jesus told his disciples that they were the salt of the earth or that they should be, or could be. Anyway I wouldn’t mind being called salt of the earth. Jesus seems to be implying that their lives, by their example and teaching is meant to bring flavor and spice into people’s lives by their preaching and teaching. Bring some richness and zest into people’s lives. A good person often brings out the good in others. We like being around such people because they make us feel good and want to be more like them. Goodness fosters imitation.
A gathering of people is always enriched by a cheerful person. We love a good storyteller, or someone who finds humor in everyday events rather than someone who tells jokes. These people don’t wallow in gossip or negativity but uplift and inspire laughter and joy around them.
By the way we live our ordinary lives we constantly witness to the Gospel. When we return the extra change or the lost wallet, we inspire others to honesty. I think my dad had a special ministry to check-out land workers. He tried to get a smile, offer encouragement or sympathy in an effort to lift the spirits of those doing a boring and thankless job. The salt of the earth, adding flavor!
In life, there are balcony people and basement people. The former lift us up, cheer us on, encourage and bring hope. They inspire faith in us. They praise where praise is due. They enrich the everyday lives of those around them. Basement people are, of course, just the opposite. They spread negativity, doom and gloom and create a heavy, joyless atmosphere. The salt of the earth stand on the balcony sprinkling flavor and a a little joy or excitement into everyone’s life.
This analogy of salt is full of meaning. Salt is necessary for life. In Jesus’ time it was a very valuable commodity and was even used for trade. Telling his disciples that they are salt is not just a compliment but a commission. BE salt. Salt disinfects, heals wounds, purifies and adds flavor and delights. Sometimes one must also endure salt in a wounded or a wounded relationship in order for it to heal. Go and do likewise. Use your talents and let them be seen.
The conclusion of his proclamation was to also be light. In other words don’t wallow in false humility but take your saltiness, your spiciness and let it shine for all to see. How else will you draw people to Christ?
As early Catholics in America we practiced our faith quietly, almost undercover because we were a minority in a staunchly protestant environment. There were even laws barring Catholics from holding any elected office. Times have changed. It is time to add a good dose of salt to the secular environment. It’s time to stand and be heard. Say it with love, kindness and respect. Do it with gentleness, love and comfort but get on the balcony and offer your salted gifts to society. Be the role model, first to your family. Do not hide your life of faith under a bushel. Be ashamed no longer of being a faith filled practicing Catholic.
Mow the lawn for an elderly neighbor or plow their driveway. Why? Because that’s what Catholics do. Take a casserole to a new mom, because that’s what Catholics do. But don’t forget to be salt at home as well. Do that chore you don’t usually don’t do to give your spouse.a break. Take the kids to a movie so your spouse can have some alone time.
Look to the saints and how their lives enriched the world. Why was an old man like John Paul II such and inspiration to the youth? His joy was infectious. People wanted to be near him and be like him. Mother Teresa of Calcutta didn’t preach, she acted. She comforted, washed and fed those no one would touch. When she spoke, it was with the arrows of conviction and challenge. Then of course there is the Mother of Jesus who has few recorded words in scripture, but her deeds speak loudly. She goes in haste to help her elderly cousin, she travels to Bethlehem without complaint, then as a migrant and a foreigner she, goes down to Egypt to protect her son. At Cana she saves a young couple embarrassment when there was no more wine at their wedding reception. Disregarding the shame of her Son’s crucifixion, she stands bravely with him. Terrified disciples look to her for strength as they await the Holy Spirit in the upper room. For the rest of her life she lives under St. John’s protection and moves away from home and family in Nazareth. Truly a stalwart women who lifts us up.
If we too live out the analogies Christ put before us, salt and light, then we have done our part to create a better, more Christ-like world. Be salt and light.