“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.