Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
When I started learning to cook, I was amazed at the prevalence of salt in recipes. I expected salt to factor heavy in a good steak, homemade potato chips, and soup. But I had no idea that a chocolate chip cookie without salt is just … missing something. Oatmeal cereal just isn’t right without a sprinkle of salt, even though I can’t taste even a hint of saltiness. I had heard people say that salt ‘brings out the other flavors,’ but the first few times I tasted these subtle salt-effects, I was surprised.
The Holy Spirit is like salt in food; a little of it makes our food better, and brings out the existing flavors. The Spirit brings out the gifts God has already given us, making us into our best selves. This is what the last few lines of our gospel are getting at. Righteous is an addition to our lives that makes us complete. Sin is in opposition to the Spirit; it is the anti-salt; it is bland. Sin is a subtraction from us- a loss or void of a bit of goodness. That’s why gospel talks of cutting off feet and hands and plucking out eyes; we’ve got to cut sin off at the source to keep our saltiness; to maintain our best self. The opposite of sinful action is a dash of salty righteous action. So we are called to help our brothers and sisters in need, in whatever small ways we can. Even a cup of water matters. A little salt and a little action go a long way to building up the kingdom.
For many Christians, especially those of us suffering from the fatigue of being a Christian for many years, it is tempting to believe we know what God is up to, or how God works. It’s an easy fallacy, because when we dive into Sacred Scripture and our Tradition, eventually we start to see repeated connections and interrelationships, and it’s easy to believe we’ve learned all the ‘important stuff.’ It’s easy to think we know how God and Salvation and Christianity work.
But let’s consider this; God is the most complex being in existence. And God is a person, not a series of laws or natural forces; so God makes choices, and those choices are far more inclusive of the totality of reality then we could ever comprehend. When considered in this way, it’s hubris to believe we can correctly predict God’s exact response to our actions or our world. We can know generally that God will respond in love, but there are many ways to love, and some of them are ‘tough.’ True, there are some people to whom God gives ‘inside’ information, but in general we don’t know what God’s up to, because it’s beyond us. So don’t delay in your conversion. Don’t use God’s love and mercy as an excuse to keep sinning. This kind of Pride may be the greatest sin, because it can trick us into believing we can control or manipulate God and God’s gifts. We cannot, and the results of our attempts will end in destruction.
As Lent approaches, Lord, please pass the salt. Sprinkle your Spirit upon us, and bring us to wholeness and holiness; incite in us acts of charity and generosity. May we allow your Spirit to mix into our being and drive out the bland taste of our sins. Amen.