VIEWS: 11 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 12/22/2009
SALT OF THE EARTH Ronald Stanley, O.P. Old-timers in the rustic mountains of the Dominican Republic told me how, decades ago, they would gather up some mules and make the week-long journey to the north coast. Their goal was the salt mines along the ocean. Salt does more than bring out the flavor of foods. We need salt to stay alive. And, especially (as in parts of the Dominican Republic) where there is no electricity, salt preserves foods. Saddlebags filled with salt made this arduous trek north worthwhile. Today, when table salt is so common and many of us are trying to limit our intake of salt, we can fail to appreciate its vital importance. And so we can also fail to appreciate the power of salt as an image used by Jesus to challenge those of us who follow Him: “You are the salt of the earth” (Mt 5:13a). You are meant to bring out the best in society. You are to give life to the world’s quest for peace and justice. You are to preserve the community from the corruption of sin. Christians are not meant to be just like everybody else. We’re meant to be like Jesus. Christians without a zest for transforming society with God’s love have lost their purpose in life. Jesus says they are like salt without flavor, good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot (Mt 5:13b). Powerful words, a powerful image, a powerful mandate-from the One Whom the world rejected and crucified. God will not look you over for medals, degrees, or [awards], but for scars. Elbert Hubbard It was my first visit to Taiwan. As the missionary priest who had picked me up drove me from the airport, I asked him about their ministry among the Chinese, so few of whom are Christians. In the course of his answer he told me something I had never heard before. He said he didn’t think that Christianity was meant to be a majority religion. Here I had thought that, from the time of the apostles on, the Church had been trying to evangelize the whole world (Mt 28:19). Not a majority religion? The priest went on to explain his concern: in trying to make Christianity palatable to the masses, its radical message gets watered down. Instead of uplifting society, Christianity becomes coopted by worldly values-A [person] who won’t die for something is not fit to live. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the salt loses its tang. We Christians have our work cut out for us. The world does not view the Good News (“Gospel”) of Jesus Christ as either good, or as news. It is not seen as good, because it runs counter to the worldly recipe for happiness: possessions, power, popularity, pleasures. It is not considered news, because the world thinks it has heard it all before: obey the Ten Commandments and you’ll go to heaven. But the Good News is infinitely more than confining rules and distant promises. God has broken into human history. Jesus Christ brings God’s love for us up close and personal. Christianity challenges us to believe that there is a God Who lives among us, cares for us. The transcendent God of this vast universe dwells within our very hearts, loving us. Once we allow the Good News of God’s personal love for us to hit home, our whole lives are transformed. Our relationship to all God’s children and to all the good things God has created are seen in the light of God’s love. We let go of grasping and fear . We learn to trust. Once we discover that God alone satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts, everything else falls into its proper perspective. Christianity is not a matter of pie in the sky when we die by and by. Our heaven begins here and now. In the face of our weaknesses and sins, we can personally experience God’s universal and unconditional love, with its power to liberate us and The glory of God is a person who is fully alive. St. Irenaeus bring out the best in us and all of society, now. We are under continual pressure from society to water down and compromise our faith values, to ignore our divine mandate to transform the world with love. Doctors vaccinate us with a weakened virus so that our bodies can build up a resistence to that virus. When the “salt of the earth” becomes tasteless, people are exposed to a diluted, bland Christianity, and build up a resistence to the real thing. Has the salt of our faith lost its force in our lives, lost its power to influence others? Is our faith the dynamic core of who we are and what we do? Or is it perfunctory, superficial, insipid? If we are not to follow the crowd through the wide gate to destruction (Mt 7:13), we must allow ourselves to be continually renewed by God’s love. The salt must keep its tang. If we Christians are to transform the world, we must nourish our own faith by taking advantage of the many opportunities available to us to experience the power and the joy of God’s love in our lives. A little bit of good salt can go a long way.
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