Today’s Gospel reminds me a lot of Coca-Cola. I mean think about it: say it’s a hot day, and you come home from school, or work, or shopping, hot and and thirsty. You’re dreaming of a freezing can of coke in the fridge – you can almost taste on your lips! You walk in, open the fridge, grab the Coke, have a sip – and you go bleurgh: because it’s flat! It’s been there so long it’s gone completely flat, and you can really taste how rubbishy sugary syrup it is. Or even worse: and this happened a lot when I was a kid. You go to the fridge to take the Coke…and discover there’s none there as whoever had the last one didn’t put in some more! So you go to the cupboard and open up a can – and it’s really warm: it’s even worse than the flat Coke. And what do we usually do? As it isn’t what it should be, after a few sips, we chuck it out. But if Coke becomes fizzless, what can make it fizzy again?
And this is exactly what Jesus says in the Gospel today: You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? Of course Jesus loves us. All he wants is to save the world through us, and dwell with him forever – but if we’re really determined to be useless to him, he respects our decision and chucks us away. This sounds harsh, but he says it himself: It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.
What then can we do to be useful salt of the earth? Jesus’ use of salt is even better than our image of Coke, because salt had two uses. Firstly, of course, it was used for flavor: it made the taste sharper, clearer and nicer. Jesus thus challenges us on our flavor: do we taste like Christians? In other words – when people see us, or see what we do, or hear what we say, do they see Jesus doing and speaking?
But salt was not just for flavor: it was also a preservative – as any of us have had beef jerky or ham or salami know. The same applies to us. Do we allow the love of God, and the law of God, and the sacraments preserve us and our families and our society from evil? Are we public Christians? It’s an important question. Last week the British Prime Minister warned about the possibility of an “eclipse of the west”. Christianity is the salt of the West: Christ’s teachings are what make Western culture different to others – ideas like freedom, human dignity, the cooperation of Faith and Reason, and so on. Christianity, and our Christian lives are a service to Australian society because they shine the light of the Creator on every aspect of reality.
These are nice words – but what can we do about this in daily life?:
- Pray for others. It sounds too easy and weak – but there is nothing stronger, for when we pray, we are entrusting people to the infinite power and love of God.
- When we have guests, or we go out for dinner, to continue to say grace before meals. Our sign of the cross brings the cross of Jesus into the room, and into the hearts of all those who see it.
- Invite our friends to mass. I mean: is mass good or not? If it is good, if it does help us, if we experience the saving help and love of God – then obviously it’s one of the best ways of helping those we love.