Father, may these spoken words be faithful to the written word and lead us to the living word, Jesus Christ our Lord.
I don’t add salt to my food. This might seem strange to some, especially my mother who would see it as outrageous. But because of this when I eat something that has been seasoned it can taste extra salty to me. I haven’t grown accustomed to the salt so it attacks my tastebuds with such sharpness and makes me take notice.
I thought of this salty sharpness when I read the Gospel today.
When Jesus speaks of salt, how can something taste salty again if we have become accustomed to it?
I believe that this is a question which addresses the foundations of our faith in Him.
If the Gospel we hear has no effect on us, if it doesn’t stir up our hearts, if the same stories pass through us with no impact, what do we do?
How can we re-taste the sharpness that we experienced when we first believed?
The way we approach our prayer life, the way we approach scripture, the way we make time to ponder on the mysteries of our faith help us to construct the foundations of a spiritual dwelling that Lord builds with us.
Without the Lord’s guidance, our attempts to construct a faith that operates on our own terms is in vain, it is folly, the saltiness of the Gospel has lost its sharpness and it is nothing but a building of straw trying to sustain the wind.
Jesus uses another analogy, another description for us to see how wonderful it is to be filled with Him, with His good news, with His love.
Jesus says that we are the light of the world because we are filled with His light, His love, His commandment to love God and each other.
This light cannot be extinguished but when our hearts are not aligned to the heart of Jesus, if our hearts do not move, we are not open to love we are nothing but a shaded light.
And yes at times it is hard to love, whether this is through experiencing hurt, through grief, through cynicism, through apathy, and through the unfairness of life, but we can take comfort with Him who proclaimed the victory of love with open arms whilst hanging on the cross, we glimpse the light of his love through His wounds of love.
It is through the raw open wounds that the light of love is seen, it is in our own wounds where our hearts are exposed where we glimpse the grace of God through the love from others, it through the saltiness of the tears of love shed by our blessed mother Mary which proclaim the sharpness of this gift of love.
Love and tears – light and salt – our journey towards the cross begins to come into focus, we walk steadily in faith to the place where love is outpoured, where we believe, yet in our hearts we may not fully understand.
St John Henry Newman speaks of “believing without reasoning”, this is not the throwing away of logic, but the spontaneous movement of the heart that allows the invisible deep sense of Gods love to speak into us.
Yet in our minds it is hard to let go of our reasoning to allow the heart to speak, most of us wrestle with day to day life and a modern desire to have all knowledge tidily stored in neat boxes, we know deeply yet struggle and grasp to find reason for the mystery of the gift of love.
Paul in his letter to the Corinthians addresses the tension between heart and mind, he says,
“I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
That is the light and saltiness, I know nothing among you except Christ crucified, the love and tears.
Paul continues his letter knowing that his humanness can give no logical or reasonable explanation of the faith imparted to him, It is only through the Spirit that guides our minds, it is only when humanity and divinity are working together that our light shines out on the hilltop.
If we have the Spirit within us then we have the mind of Christ, and the heart of Christ, the indwelling of Christ, which we receive afresh as we approach the altar and consume him in the Eucharist.
God with us, the incarnation, breathes life and wisdom, the prophets cry out in love and tears to show us how to reactivate the saltiness, to uncover our light through the way we align our hearts with God’s love, with love in action,
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn.”
There is hope also for us, because as we proclaim love in action, we are also sustained, fed, watered, strengthened, and given a promise of renewal and growth.
As we know the Church feels to be in a precarious situation, yet we are given the solution to growth and rebuilding, to uncover our light, to reclaim our saltiness, through love and tears, for hearts breaking for the needs of all of God’s people by aligning ourselves, moving our hearts, to the heart of Christ, through the foundations of prayer, reading scripture, and tending to our neighbours, all entwined in love, the freely given gift of the Holy Spirit.
We can be brave and dare to believe without reasoning, to say yes to call of the Lord, to take courage.
These few weeks before lent is a brilliant time to start thinking about how we can approach this season differently, it is time to ask the Lord what he wants us to do, and ask Him how we can do it.
We are light and salt, love and tears.