Jesus said to his disciples, “YOU are the salt of the earth.”
How is that?
Our bodies need less than a quarter of a teaspoon a day,
very little compared to our size.
If you weigh 125 pounds,
only half a pound of you is salt.
But if you don’t get enough salt,
you get hyponatremia—low blood sodium—
and that can make you weak and tired,
can give you headaches and nausea and cramps,
can get you confused and irritable,
can make you vomit.
On the other hand, too much salt
can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
It can damage your kidneys,
and it may be bad for your bones, too.
The good thing about salt
is that it makes our food taste good.
Just a little bit makes a big difference.
Religion is like salt.
We need the right amount to keep our faith healthy.
Not too little,
or our faith gets weak.
Not too much,
or our faith gets seriously damaged.
It’s like that great scholar noted for his piety.
Every day he sat alone for hours
studying the scriptures and praying and meditating.
One day the scholar heard that a holy man was in town,
so he went looking for him.
He looked in the church but didn’t find him there.
He went to the local shrine, but he wasn’t there, either.
He looked in all the likely places but couldn’t find him,
so he gave up and headed toward home.
That’s when he found him... in the marketplace.
So the scholar went up to the holy man
and told him who he was
and how he spent hours alone every day
in the study of the scriptures and in prayer and meditation.
Then he said, “I have come to seek your advice
on how I might grow in the service of God.”
The holy man gave him a simple and direct answer:
“It’s easy to be a saint in your room.
“Go out in the world and try to be a saint there.”
Salt of the earth.
When Jesus says that his followers are the salt of the earth,
he’s saying that they have a serious responsibility
BOTH to practice their religion
AND to give witness in the world with their good deeds.
Just like with salt, balance is important.
That phrase “salt of the earth”
comes into colloquial American English
meaning a worthy, dependable, unpretentious person,
a person who is thoroughly decent.
But being the salt of the earth isn’t the whole thing.
Jesus also tells his disciples,
“You are the light of the world.”
Yes, go to the synagogue and say the prayers,
but if that’s all you do,
the salt loses its flavor,
the light is hidden.
And no, don’t skip the meditation and rituals,
because your faith will grow weak,
like a body without salt,
like a light under a bushel basket.
As followers of the Way of Jesus,
we don’t have to leave our jobs,
and get involved in a whirlwind of good works.
To be salt of the earth and light of the world,
we are called to practice our faith
in whatever situation we happen to be in.
Isaiah gives us some pointers
that look a lot like those “corporal works of mercy”
we had to memorize in grade school.
Food, clothes, shelter.
Don’t oppress people.
It’s pretty simple, but it’s not always easy.
At last week’s Community meeting,
you voted to donate for anti-racism efforts,
for legal help for vulnerable and oppressed folks,
for food for UT students,
for help for single parents and their children.
Every week you fill my car with really good stuff
for Claver House and Rahab’s Heart and UStogether.
In the middle of that big crunch of people
walking across the MLK bridge on inauguration day
I caught sight of several of you
with your signs about love and inclusion…
and some clever ones,
like Sue with her bright pink “I will be watching” sign.
I finally got myself on Facebook,
so I see your comments
on the justice and injustice going on in our world.
I hear about your kindnesses to both friend and stranger.
You followers of the Way of Jesus,
you ARE salt of the earth and light of the world.
And I thank God for you!
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue
Toledo, OH 43606
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor