I like my steaks grilled medium rare; each piece eaten with only a pinch of salt. I do not prefer sauces. There are now flavoured salts, some of which are very good. Just that pinch of salt for me add so much more to the taste. Salt. In Bangkok I enjoy the Thai trilogy of taste: sweet, sour and spicy. But without the little salt this trilogy cannot be what it is.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.” (Today’s Gospel)
We are called to be the salt of the earth, invited to make a difference to life. Not only our own but to those around us. When we start to hoard essentials because of the virus we must realize that it is only due to our affluence that we can afford to. People who live from hand-to-mouth can ration to keep aside some but cannot hoard. An empty shelf will greet them when they can next afford. The ‘salt’ question will come when the doorbell rings and a neighbor ask if we can spare some essentials?
“Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, clothe the man you see to be naked and do not turn from your own kin.” (First Reading)
To become salt of the earth is not confined only to providing material needs. Salt is an underlying essential. People’s lives are also sweet, sour and spicy; our life experiences sweetened with joy, soured by bitterness or spiced by excitement. The little bit of salt in these flavours of life ensures that we keep in touch with our spiritual self, this soul created in the likeness of our Creator, whose identity is one of true love.
To become salt of the earth, we must be mindful of our natural capacity to love. In the context of today’s world, salt comes in different flavours. They are meant to surface this love in our life, to take the lamp out from under the tub.
A pinch of self-denial can reawaken our conscience. Our conscience is a compass towards true love. This pinch of self-denial first reminds us of our neighbour. Then it flavours our words and actions to allow this light of Christ to shine through the life we live.
The life we live can sometimes be quite tough. The pain from the challenges can blind us to deny this love of our Creator. Gratitude is a flavored salt. Life has delivered me a few bitter experiences. Wallowing in self-pity I preferred to immerse myself in bitterness dreaming of revenge. I was then reminded of gratitude, of the many blessings despite my challenges. A dash of gratitude stirred into bitterness can lead to a remarkable recovery of our true spiritual self.
Forgiveness is another flavored salt. Forgiving goes against the grain of our instinctive nature. The salt of forgiveness begins to impact our life when we do the unexpected of praying for those who persecute us in our daily life. We pray to take away our hatred and through forgiveness become a brighter light to the world.
Salt make words of love come alive. Salt is the grace to do good, and to make a difference. Salt is abundant in us, worthless if not used. Salt is the fuel to power the Holy Spirit to transform our philosophy of religion into little acts of love for all of us to experience and be convinced and make tangible the love of our Creator in our life. And all of us need only a pinch of it.
St Paul, “Far from relying on any power of my own, I came among you in great ‘fear and trembling’ and in my speeches and the sermons that I gave, there were none of the arguments that belong to philosophy; only a demonstration of the power of the Spirit. And I did this so that your faith should not depend on human philosophy but on the power of God.” (Second Reading)
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time