My friend Joe Costantino, S.J., pastor of the St. Ignatius of Loyola Church in Chestnut Hill MA, replied to my post of yesterday by sending me his bulletin reflection on Jesus’ instruction to be salt of the earth.
Observing that “Jesus uses the metaphor of salt both to describe his disciples and also to prescribe what they are to do in and for the world,” Joe referenced G.K. Chesterton’s observation that “salt seasons and preserves beef, not because it it like beef; but because it is very unlike it.” That suggests, wrote Joe,
that Jesus is calling his disciples not to accept the status quo, not to be just like the “beef ” that is the world. Rather they are to season it, brighten it, even alter it the way salt seasons brightens, or alters the taste of our food. Like salt, they are also to be a preservative for the “beef,” preserving all that is right and good in our world: “restoring the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever the world neglects, which is by no means always the same element in every age.”
Joe then asked what is it that the world hungers for that is being neglected. He mentioned two such hungers: national civic discourse and national care for the “other” among us:
Civil discourse certainly seems to be at a low ebb. Dialogue is now often reduced to a tweet or two. As for caring for the other? That too has descended to a new low. I am sure we all agree, Jesus did not give us a mandate to care only for those who are from our country or allow our care to extend just to those who have all their legal papers. As Christians we believe that, whether one acknowledges it or not, we are all daughters and sons of one God and sisters and brothers in Christ. Our care for the other – even when it “costs” us – should know no bounds. Exaggeration of civil discourse and care for the other are surely just two of the areas where we might be an additive, like salt, to what is already present in our world but always in need of being enhanced and nowadays even exaggerated.
You can read the entirety of Joe’s bulletin here.