Body and Blood of Christ

Lectio

Drinking Well


Life, Light and Love

 

Jesus said to his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled under people’s feet.                                                                                       

Mt 5:13


Lectio

T

he rock group, the Rolling Stones sang a song which ends with these words:

“Let's drink to the hard working people,
Let's drink to the salt of the earth,
Let's drink to the two thousand million,
Let's think of the humble of birth.”

This one verse tells us a lot about the people we call the salt of the earth: they are hard-working; there are a lot of them, and they are not the rich and the powerful but the humble of birth. We must add one more thing: even though they are many and they are lowly, they are the best. They are like salt that gives taste and flavour to life around them. We are giving the highest praise when we say of someone, that he or she is the salt of the earth.

One dictionary explains the phrase this way: the most worthy of people; a very good or worthy person. Mrs. Jones is the salt of the earth. She is the first to help anyone in trouble. Frank's mother is the salt of the earth. She has five children of her own and yet fosters three others.” Another dictionary gives a similar example, “His mother's the salt of the earth. She'd give you her last penny.”  Jesus was the first to use this phrase.  He told his followers who accepted his values and lived as he lived, that they were the salt of the earth. life

To make this real for yourself, I invite you to do two things.  Firstly, think of someone you know that you would describe as the salt of the earth. This may take a little time, but I think you will not find it difficult to do. The second thing I ask, you may find a little more difficult: notice in what way you are the salt of the earth yourself. Don’t be too quick to say you are certainly not the salt of the earth! Think of one quality in you that might move people to use these words to describe you.

Becoming tasteless
Jesus adds a word of warning for his followers: salt can lose its flavour and become tasteless; it then has no further use and is thrown out. Notice when you have seen this happen. You may think of sports people, politicians, clergy, artists, entertainers who brought flavour to many lives; but then betrayed the values they had previously lived by, and in the startling words of Jesus, were trampled under people’s feet.

lifeAs Irish people we are praised and admired for our friendliness, our good-neighbourliness and our readiness to help people in distress.  How shocking it was in recent times to hear about the neglectful and sometimes cruel treatment meted out to frail elderly people in nursing homes, and in their own homes by carers paid by the state to look after them.  Many of these carers may have been the salt of the earth in their early days, but in time they began to be careless and hardened; the salt became tasteless.

A world apart
Not only individuals, but groups of people can be salt savouring the communities in which they live and work.  Our bishops and priests, at their best have been salt to their people and to the wider world through the ages. They too can lose their taste and be trampled under foot by the people. This has happened to our Church leaders in Ireland. Speaking about them last December, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said, “In many aspects the Church in Ireland had allowed itself to drift into a position where its role in society had grown beyond what is legitimate. It acted as a world apart. It had often become self-centred and arrogant. It felt that it could be forgiving of abusers in a simplistic manner and rarely empathized with the hurt of children.”

 

Brendan Clifford

Prayer Psalm 32
I kept it secret and my frame was wasted.
I groaned all day long.
But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said, “I will confess
my offense to the Lord.”
and you, Lord, have forgiven
the guilt of my sin.



 

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