Winter edges towards spring now, and Ordinary Time will yield to Lent in just weeks. It is one of those unremarkable in-between-times that make up so much of life. But breathing deeply in ths space, knowing the sting of cold and the richness of comforting warmth, simplicity speaks. Simply being. Simply alive. And somehow, Matthew 5’s “You are the salt of the earth” makes sense.
Hours ago, I might not have acceded to that. But then I heard a homily that repositioned who and what we are as Christians using the analogy of salt. Christians: the salt that flavors the world and life. Christians: the salt preserves and protects the narrative. Christians as the salt that revitalizes the spent and revives the weak. Christians: the people who are willing to support and serve, encourage and enable one another.
In the ancient world, salt held a place of esteem and value. It was a treasure in and of itself with practical purposes and trade routes to prove its worth. But it belonged also to the importance of reviving a military exhausted from battle. In other words, salt was the essential that made sense of all the rest. So it is with Christianity: it is about making sense of the rest of life.
The shakers that sit idly on tables can be reminders that what we take for granted can actually have meaning. Christians can bring the embrace of acceptance and add zest and flavor to the most mundane of moments. In a world groaning with so many griefs, Christians can inspire and preserve a narrative of hope and joy. Christians can encourage one another, strengthen and empower one another, be carried and carry each other. And so Christians can flavor life in a way that speaks to others.
Salt in its simplicity managed to anchor empires and carve out trade routes. It created connections just as Christians can do. Salt in its unadulterated simplicity makes life better, both the ordinary days and the extraordinary ones. And so Christians can do the same. The analogy has an unexpected substance.
But the homily closed with other gifts. There was the gentle note that this is, of course, all counter cultural. And then, a hope that within this faith community, we become salt for one another. That we recognize those who have been the salt for us, who have added that taste and zest. That we dare to be salt, to preserve and protect one another. That we find gratitude for the all the salt in our lives, and savor its flavor.
It was a homily that gave new meaning to an old story. It added flavor to the most ordinary of Sunday mornings. It invited reflection and then action, and it linked the personal and the communal experiences. Most of all, it was a homily that totally changed what it meant to “Pass the salt”!