Salt and saltiness
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A
6-9 year olds
You are the salt of the earth
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus calls us salt. Salt?! Seriously?
First, let's think...who does he mean? Who is it that Jesus is calling the salt of the earth?
Who are we?
We are people who know and love Jesus.
We know he is the Good Shepherd, and we love how he calls his sheep by name.
We know he is the True Vine and that we are the branches that make up that vine. When he says,
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you (John 15:9)
our hearts rejoice because we love him too and we want to remain in his love.
We know him and we love him.
Now, what do we know about salt?
Personally, I like salt quite a bit. I like salty potato chips and salty French fries. It makes the food taste better. Not just better, it actually gives food taste. Have you ever tried eating a potato without salt? Yick. Borrrrrring.
So, salt is flavour. We are the flavour of the earth. What does that mean?
Flavour makes food interesting. Somehow our knowing and loving Jesus and wanting to remain in him makes the world interesting. Just as people add salt to their food to make it tasty, so too people want more of us--want to be with us--because there is something about us, about our lives, that just makes life on earth better.
Salt is also used to preserve food. This means that salt is added to food so that the food does not go rotten. In Jesus' time, when there were no freezers or refrigerators, fishermen would put their fish into barrels of salt so that the fish wouldn't spoil before it could be sold. Even today, salt is added to foods to slow the growth of mold and bacteria that causes food to go bad.
So, when Jesus says we are the salt of the earth, could he mean that we preserve the earth from going bad? Do we, by knowing Jesus and loving him, prevent the world from becoming a rotten place?
Because we love him and want to remain in his love, we make certain choices. We choose to live in a certain way. We can say that our choices help to spread his light; our choices help to build the kingdom. This certainly preserves the world from becoming rotten, doesn't it?
but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?
Sometimes we make poor choices. We all do. Sometimes our actions break down the kingdom instead of building it up. Our saltiness is drained away and we become like the rest of the bland earth.
The answer to Jesus' question--how can saltiness be restored--is, "it cannot." The salt cannot restore its own saltiness. We cannot restore our saltiness. We cannot become the attractive flavour of the world again.
But who can restore it? Who can restore us to the people we are meant to be? Who can remove the blockages in our branch so that the Holy Spirit flows within us freely?
When we have made wrong choices, we hear him calling us back. We answer. We go to the sacrament of Reconciliation and our saltiness is restored.