theROCK

To Be Salt of the Earth

main image

“You are the salt of the earth.”

In today’s gospel Jesus tells us this very catchy and familiar phrase. It is also the motto of St. Francis de Sales Seminary, except they use the Latin, “vos estis sal terrae”. Sounds very inspirational. I must tell you, though, I don’t quite know what it means to be “the salt of the earth”. 

To be the salt, does it mean to be one of the people? For us priests, maybe it is a warning to maintain humility and not forget we are sinners like everyone else. My wife had that assignment  when I was a physician. When she noticed I was thinking too highly of myself she would remind me, we all put our pants on one leg at a time. I was never quite sure what that meant, but I listened. 

Maybe to be salt means that we, through our lives, are to be the flavor of humanity? We are to lead joy filled lives of service and thereby flavor the lives of those we meet. Through our relationship with Jesus, through our understanding of salvation in the midst of suffering, we can offer others a means of savoring life. 

I also cannot help but think of a common modern use of salt, especially at this time of year…to melt ice. Being the salt of the earth, we could melt the ice of anger and hate. As the salt, we can give traction to those whose ways are slippery and prone towards falling. As the salt, we can provide a safe path to God and home.

Now that I think about it, maybe I do know what it means to be the salt of the earth.

A New Commandment

main image

Mandatum Novum—a new commandment.

This gospel passage, “I give you a new commandment, ” is one of my favorites.  The passage follows Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet on the night before Jesus died. Jesus, no doubt full of anguish, because he knew he was about to be betrayed and of his impending passion, gives them his last words of advice before taking up the cross. With all of the “stuff” our Lord has going on, he still has his mission to fulfill. Within moments, Judas will betray him. In a few short hours, Peter will deny him—not once, but three times! Yet, the Lord shows us yet another example of humility by washing feet.

We all have a mission to fulfill, and we all have “stuff” going on in our lives. The reading and re-reading of this passage gives me cause to think of how I am responding to everyday events in my life. Today is a good day for all of us to evaluate how the Lord’s new commandment is relevant in our lives.

Lord, grant us your humility, that even in our daily trials, to see the opportunities to wash the feet of our brothers and sisters. Let your Mandatum Novum be our Novus Via Vitae—new way of life.