The Salt of the Earth

Reflection on today’s Gospel reading: MT 5:13-16

The zebra and the ostrich met at the watering hole for a friendly chat. Just then, the zebra spotted a bag on the ground. The zebra sniffed at it and cried, “It is salt!” The zebra and the ostrich were very excited. The zebra said, “Let’s eat it.” So, the ostrich pecked a hole in it and the salt trickled out. The friends took turns tasting it. Very soon, however, they began to fight over who should keep the salt. A deceitful jackal nearby saw an opportunity. He told them, “Close your eyes and count to hundred. Whoever finds it first, can keep it.” When the zebra and the ostrich opened their eyes, they found both the jackal and the bag of salt gone![1]

As this story illustrates salt is a desirable substance. Throughout the history of man, this mineral has been used to preserve food, to add flavor, and even to cure. When Jesus tells us: “You are the salt of the earth” (MT 5:13), he is reminding us that as His disciples we are to preserve his teachings, to add flavor to our ministries through him, and to cure on his behalf those seeking to be healed. Everything we endeavor to do in His name ought to be sprinkled with our spiritual salt. It is how we make Christianity desirable to humanity and pleasing to God.

Be aware, however, that our salt is also desired by a spiritual jackal, the devil.  Yet, unlike the jackal he does not have to steal this ingredient, he only needs to render it tasteless. There is nothing he would like better than to drain the flavor from our salt. Our enemy knows that “if salt loses its taste…. It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” (MT 5:13). A skilled operator, this jackal uses anger, pride, lust, sloth, gluttony, envy and greed to drain from our substance the components that give it its flavor: patience, humility, chastity, diligence, abstinence, kindness, and liberality. When we fall for his tricks, we become his slaves. Remember, Adam and Eve? That is what happened to them when their greed blinded them from the snake’s trick. As a consequence, God threw them out of Paradise. In the process, their loss of salt led “to the movements of concupiscence that never cease leading us into evil” (CCC 978).

Our enemy is constantly looking for someone to fool. Like the jackal in the story, he will try every trick in the book to rob us from our the flavor that makes us children of God. The good news is that God is on our side.  He provided us with a shepherd to guard us, a pastor who overcame sin and death. As long as we have faith and hope in Him, we will remain salt of the earth.

May the Lord be our joy.

[1] “The bag of salt | SHORT STORIES.” N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2017 <http://shortstoriesshort.com/story/the-bag-of-salt/&gt;.

He Departed From Him For A Time

Reading today’s Gospel (Luke 4:1-13) my attention was drawn to the last sentence: “When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.”  In the past, I had not really paid attention to these words, but today they jumped out at me.

The devil never stopped tempting Jesus. First, he attacked Jesus directly, face-to-face in the desert. When that failed, he attacked him indirectly through Judas Iscariot (cf. LK 22:3). In Judas, he found a willing party to expose Jesus to the biggest temptation of all: to avoid the suffering of the crucifixion.  Fortunately for humanity, Jesus triumphed in all instances.

As I pondered those words in my heart, I realized that I must always be alert to the devil’s attacks both direct and indirect. As St. Peter tells us “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). However, this is an effort that I cannot take on my own.  First, I must rely on God to fill me with the Holy Spirit (cf. LK 4:1) and grace me with steadfast faith to resist the devil. Second, I must join the community of fellow believers, for they, too, undergo the same temptations. Together, we will call upon the graces that God grants us through Jesus (cf. 1 Peter 5:9-10).

Be Sober and Vigilant

“Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith.” ~ 1 Peter 5: 8-9a

Every day there is a battle for our souls. On one side is the gentle and loving God whose heart offers everlasting life. On the other side is the Devil whose trident leads us to permanent misery.

Let’s be sober and vigilant through prayer; God’s saving shield. Let’s ask God for mercy that His presence is always with us; that He protects us from the snares of the devil; that He helps us to become servants of faith, hope, and love. If we do not, we will be defenseless against lust, greed, and jealousy, thus becoming an easy prey to be devoured.

May the Holy Spirit guide us, enlighten us, and protect us on this day.

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