On May 1st of this year my mother passed away following three years of battling cancer. Those who came to pay their respects would declare that she—and my dad who is still living—were the “salt of the earth” kind of people. So, for me today’s Gospel reading begs the question, what do those words look like? How might we lose our flavor? And, how might we shine and give glory to God?
I believe it means nothing more than sharing the Love of Jesus at every opportunity. We do this by cultivating a life of prayer and service which over time produces the fruit of hospitality, wisdom, engagement and love. I wonder in our hustle and hurry world if these qualities may be diluted and even slip away unnoticed. Then every once in a while, life invites us to notice by sending challenges we don’t feel equipped to handle.
Fear not! When you’ve lost your flavor, go find a salt of the earth person. You know who they are. They are the ones who let their light shine, the beacon on the hill calling you home. Home to yourself, home to experience the love of Jesus. I understand this is what people meant when they spoke of my mother. She opened her door to all with a ready smile, she engaged in the lives of her family and friends offering the wisdom gleaned over a lifetime of prayer and service. She gave the gift of her time. As St. Paul suggests in our first reading, yes, was in her.
Being anointed by God and sealed with his Spirit as a first installment is our destiny and inheritance not just for an unknown future but today—now, this very moment. Regardless of our life circumstances—in fact, I might suggest it is true in spite of our circumstances. Like the city set on a mountain, we must attempt to rise above our circumstances, to reach high so as to be infused with the flavor of the Spirit which we discover actually never leaves us.
What we lose is our vision, our way; if we are not careful to cultivate our deepest, yes. The foundation and seal of all our yesses is only possible through the initiative of our Creator. With God, all things are possible and without him, we can do nothing. This is the essence of being the salt of the earth; it is a humbleness which is expressed in loving and giving life and does not expect anything in return. It simply allows the glory to be given to God. This is our call and we have been made worthy once and for all.
So, let us be encouraged when we find those wonderful people in our lives who shine like a beacon in this world which is often very confusing. Let us strive to be like them as we shout aloud, “Wonderful are your decrees, therefore I observe them” and let your glory shine, Lord, alleluia, alleluia!
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.