“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men.” Matthew 5:13
At one point or another in all of our lives, I am sure we have felt lost, not knowing our usefulness or purpose. Today’s Gospel was taken from Matthew, where Jesus said that “you are the salt of the earth”. Upon hearing this today, it struck me in a new way, because it was for me an encouragement, spoken directly to me by the Lord. He is speaking this very thing to all of us, personally. In relation to God, we are really nothing. Yet to Him, we are His everything, the apple of His eye, the one that He loves. He paid our ransom so that we can spend eternity with Him, although knowing that we could still choose to reject Him. By virtue of our Baptism, we have been commissioned to flavour our world with the love of Christ, preserve the world from corruption, help to bring healing through Christ to the broken, and through those ordained as Priests, cleanse the souls of sinners through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. What a mission to be given, to be salt for the earth!
Salt has always served these four purposes, to give flavour, to preserve, to heal, and to clean. As baptized Catholics, this is our four-fold mission, given to us by Christ. When the multitudes of people gathered around Him, he first said to them the beatitudes. After saying that we are the salt of the earth, he went on to give us many other instructions on how to love rightly, how to be right with one another, and with God Himself. At the end of chapter five in Matthew, Christ says “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” In this way, we are meant to imitate God, and this four-fold mission encompasses that.
In Haydock’s Catholic commentary of the Douay-Rheims Bible, he says that:
The former instructions Jesus Christ gave to the multitude. Now he addresses his apostles, styling them the salt of the earth, meant to preserve men from the corruption of sin, and to make them relish the truths of salvation. He tells them not to suffer their faith or their charity to slacken, in which all their power consists, lest they come to be rejected by God, and despised by man. (Calmet) — I send you, says Jesus Christ, not to two, ten, or twenty cities, not to one single nation, as the prophets were sent, but to the whole world, a world oppressed with numberless iniquities. It is not the property of salt to restore what is already corrupted, but to preserve from corruption. Therefore the virtue of the merits of Christ delivers us from the corruption of sin; but the care and labour of the apostles preserves us from again returning to it. (St. Chrysostom, hom. xv.) …
The world has always meant to be peripheral to the Church, rather than the Church being peripheral to the world. Our world today has been most affected by this corruption and brokenness through the family, and it is by taking active steps to uphold the family that we can most effectively be salt for the earth. Blessed Pope John Paul II said that “as the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” With the breakdown of the family, we have seen the breakdown of our society at large. Marriage between a husband and wife is meant to be an image of the Trinity. Anything less than that is a mockery and counterfeit of this holy institution, from pre-marital cohabitation and use of contraception and abortion, to homosexual acts, adultery, divorce, etc. We can be salt to our families and whole world by upholding the dignity of marriage and the family, guarding our tongue, reconciling with one another, maintaining a peaceful home, remaining faithful and honest with one another, not killing other people, etc.
One of the two Priests at Mass today shared a simple yet powerful story, which we can all learn from and strive to model. A young boy went with his Grandmother to Church, and was in awe at the beautiful stained glass windows. He could not take his eyes off them. When he was at school the following day, a Priest came in to his religion class to talk to them about the Saints. Upon asking if anyone knew who the Saints were, the young boy said “I know! They are the people who the Sun shines through!” Have courage! With Christ, all can be overcome. He has made us salt and He will preserve us so we can let Him shine through us. It is through us that He can preserve, heal, cleanse, and flavour the world.