Reflection for the Third Sunday before Lent

‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?’ Jesus, in Matthew 5:13-20.

‘We create…..a ‘salt of the world’ as well as ‘for the world’ – Blackthorn salt advert. 

Whilst I was serving in a church in Nottingham, I used to do some talks and articles for broadcast with the local radio station. I became quite a dab hand with cutting tape to edit the comments made and met some fascinating people as I interviewed them but, on one occasion, heard of the time when salt had been scattered on the ground to strengthen the signal from an outside broadcast. That greatly helped the transmission – but nearly killed the nearby trees and vegetation. A similar thing happened at St Melangell’s where, some years ago, salt was scattered to look like snow for a TV film and did the yews no good at all. Nowadays, with greater awareness of care for the environment, that wouldn’t happen – salt has to be used with care!

Jesu knew that, as the Dead Sea was a place where salt was harvested and, at times, cut with additives to make it go further. If too much was added, that made it unusable and  it would be trodden underfoot. Jesus would have been familiar with that and, once again, uses illustrations with which those who listened to him could identify. 

He tells his followers in this extract from the Sermon on the Mount that you ARE the salt of the earth – not that they will be. Now is the time and even just a few grains will enhance flavour. If left in the pot or packet, salt is useless – it’s when it’s sprinkled on food or stirred into it as seasoning that it makes a difference. Salt is also used as a preservative and for healing, as in a salt water gargle to kill germs. It’s a disinfectant too – bacteria are the only living organisms in the Dead Sea although, when I went, they were nearly joined by the provost of Southwell Minster who needed help to right himself having turned turtle trying to retrieve the newspaper the wind blew away as he read it whilst floating in the brine for the good of his health!

Nowadays, salt is avoided by those with high blood pressure and there are many alternatives to it medically. However, any priest shares the cure of souls with their bishop although their helper tends to be called the curate rather than the assistant curate that they  actually are. In curing fish or meat with salt, it’s also being protected from decay and, as Lent approaches, so these words of Jesus remind us of the cure that our souls as well as our bodies need, too. Despite its many uses, Jesus is talking specifically of the use of salt for seasoning – as it’s stirred in to food and disappears, it can no longer be seen but its presence can be tasted. In speaking of salt – and light too – Jesus highlights the ordinary things of life that are to hand in any kitchen and to which his followers could make a difference. Salt needs to be used and, in such dark times today, there are many possibilities to being useful and making a difference to the mixture that is the kingdom of heaven here on earth. As Blackthorn’s advert suggests, the followers of Jesus need to be salt of the world as well as for the world if we’re to have any relevance or make a difference in life today. And in mixing in now as well as in what lies ahead, we need to be seasoned campaigners!

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Guardian.