I don’t mean to make light of the Scripture designated for this weekend. However, I would like to call to your attention the lines between last Sunday’s proclamation and the verses skipped coming into today’s Gospel. They are too rich, I believe, to let them slip from our attention.
“Everyone will be purified by fire, as a sacrifice is purified by salt. Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, how can you make it salty again?” “Insipid” – that’s a rich descriptive word, isn’t it? If one becomes “insipid” can her/his ‘tang’ ever be restored?
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like at least a hint of salt. We may use it sparingly but we use it, or a salt substitute, to make our food tastier. Some, even when the doctor dictates against it, experience a craving for salt. How quickly the potato chips and Fritos disappear!
Other spices are different – many people are picky about them. Some think food is distasteful unless it’s peppery-hot. The mere thought of hot spicy foods ties my stomach in a huge knot. I marvel at people who devour a whole chili or ghost pepper.
But salt, you know, has many more uses than only bringing out flavor in foods. I found a list of 60 everyday uses. Here is a sampling: it can be used to end an ant parade, deodorize your shoes, to gargle a sore throat, clean flower residue from a vase, freshen up artificial flowers, remove water rings from furniture, extinguish a grease fire, or a cloth soaked in salt water will prevent cheese from getting moldy. Some of you will remember Sister Bernadette’s big dye pot! Well, salt is used to fix the dye in fabric. Without salt, the bright colors that we wear today would quickly fade. It’s used in the production of over 14,000 different products. Each year, food companies use an amount that is every bit as staggering as it sounds – 5 billion pounds of salt.
Let me not stray too far afield from Scripture, but it helps us understand why Jesus or the evangelist would use the image of salt in a lesson with us. The usefulness of salt was a well-known fact long before Jesus walked this earth. At one time, salt was so important and valuable that people were paid with salt. Thus came the expression “are you worth your salt?” Is it any wonder that Jesus told us that we were to be like salt to the earth? Listen again to the words of Jesus. “Salt is good, but if it becomes insipid, how can you restore its saltiness? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” I think that he was saying that we should “salt” that is, flavor our world with love. And that likewise we should allow God to use us, and our saltiness, in making the world a better place.
You may remember this Indian folk tale about salt. The story goes thus: Once there was a king who was trying to decide which of his daughters should inherit the kingdom. So he asked each one, “How do you love me? The first three daughters each answered: “I love you as sugar or honey.” The youngest said, “Father, I love you as salt.” The king frowned, but she persisted in repeating it, to the point that the king waved her away.
Sometime later she prepared a meal for her father but she didn’t add any salt to it. When the king sat down to eat, the first course included only sweets which he picked at with displeasure. Next, he was served meat, which he usually enjoyed but this was AWFUL. By now he was very hungry, longing for something which he could eat. The princess offered him a dish of common spinach, seasoned with salt. The king signified his pleasure by finishing off the dish with relish. She stepped cautiously forward saying, “Oh my father, I do love you so. I love you as salt. My love may be homely, but it is true, genuine and lasting. Thus, as the saying goes, were the Scriptures fulfilled: let us “Have the salt of friendship among yourselves, and live in peace with one another.”
How about you? Are you allowing Jesus to use you to be salt to the world? How are you flavoring the world? Are you an irritant rubbing salt in the wound? Or are you a soothing poultice held lovingly to a tender hurt? Are you worth your salt? Are we drying the salt of tears for the abused? Salt seasons soup in order to fulfill its purpose. Remember salt is no good by itself – it takes companionship to bring out its flavor. In whose life are you bringing out the flavor? Who is salt in your life?
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB, Prioress
Please join us in prayer for Congress that the members may come to one mind for the betterment of the people whose lives are impacted by their decisions.
First Reading: Genesis 2:18-24 Second Reading: Hebrews 2:9-11
Gospel: Mark 10:2-16