Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on February 13, 2023 View all Gospel Reflection

“You are the salt of the earth,” Matthew 5:13

Salt is for preservation. Meat in hot climates needed to be cut into slender strips that were soaked in salt solution, then hung up to dry to make what we call “Jerky.”

A “preservative in the dying carcass of a world.” [source: ‘The salt of the Earth’ in covenantal perspective, Don B. Garlington, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 54 no 4 Dec 2011, p 741]

If we neglect our sanctification, we can never be salt of the earth.

E.g., “She graduated from Harvard with a degree in history- why is she teaching seventh grade in rural West Virginia? [source: October, 2019].

She is trying to make a difference in a poor and broken public school system more seemingly interested, at times, in indoctrination in gender ideology than Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.

Salt was also used to prevent Old Testament sacrifices from putrefying into rot. Leviticus 2:13 reads: “And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering.”

In the New Testament, sacrifices seasoned with salt speaks of covenant fellowship with God, which we have in the Mass. Living the Mass is about “the unbending truthfulness of that self-surrender to the Lord embodied in the sacrifice of Christ, by which impurity and hypocrisy are repelled. (Ibid, 718).

Do you swear? Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.” And Ephesians 4:29 says: “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying…”

Pro-lifers are salt for society. E.g., many forms of hormonal birth control can be abortifacient (cause early chemical abortions) by obstructing the implantation of the newly formed human embryo in his or her mother’s womb. Human embryologists authoritatively conclude that a human embryo is a human being immediately beginning at fertilization – the fusion of an egg and sperm immediately resulting in a new, genetically distinct human being called a zygote. Embryos are no different in their fundamental humanity from a 5-month fetus in the womb, a 5-year-old girl, or a 50-year-old man. At every stage of development, human beings (whether zygote to adolescent or adult) retain their basic human identity as they grow through their successive stages.  [source: PRO-LIFE WISCONSIN].

Being like a fertilizer is in our First Reading too, from Isaiah 58:7-10, “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless…”

Salt is also a symbol of a curse—in Genesis 19:24, the Lord rained down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah but Lot’s wife, fleeing the city, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Several Jewish sources say that her looking back was “a longing and wistful gaze, with a desire to be part of the now-destroyed culture. In looking back, she identified herself with the damned town. She too had imbibed a love of Sodom and its attitudes.” [Ibid, 725]

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.”

Salt is not for itself; it is seasoning for food. We are here not for ourselves but for the earth. Worthless salt is thrown out and letting people trample on it evoke associations of judgment” as one is acting no different than the prevailing culture. [Ibid. 737].