In the biblical phrase from Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus calls us salt. In a good way. We are meant to be the ingredient that makes another substance palatable and tasty to someone else. God’s life and love is the substance. When our faith is expressed with sincerity and virtue, we increase the savory-ness so the flavor of God can be appreciated by others. Salt is a service. As salt, we enable people to encounter and enjoy God more deliciously.
Have you ever noticed that certain foods seem to simply be salt delivery devices? Many of us don’t really enjoy foods like French Fries and popcorn when served without salt. Similarly, God seems to like creating situations in which He depends on our involvement for something special or holy to happen. In His magnanimity, He makes himself that food that needs our seasoning. How nice of Him.
As essential as salt can be in the success of most any savory dish, being too heavy-handed with salt can distort and destroy it. Humility is the salt grinder through which we can do our job delightfully. Our humility makes our part in the dish simply draw attention to God as the heavenly food. When our pride, anger, or harsh attitudes pop the top off and dump out the entire contents of the salt shaker, we interfere with the diner’s ability to even know what God tastes like.
Other times we abandon our saltiness all together. We can become an artificial flavor enhancer like MSG. Monosodium glutamate is a chemical compound called an excitotoxin. It has no nutritional value. It is an empty silhouette of what a seasoning like salt is supposed to be. It draws us to desire the food not for the substance of the food itself but for the way the additive stimulates hunger in the brain. Food seasoned with MSG can seem to taste great but it is really the MSG we are wanting more of. When we act as MSG in our life of faith, we become the focus of other people’s interest. We may have the tendency toward either abasing ourselves or toward showmanship that puts God in our shadow. We think we are drawing others to God because we talk or write or do nice things in the name of God, but if we are MSG, then closeness to us is what they are really drawn to.
We can rest in the confidence that God has given each of us naturally salty spiritual strengths that are organic to us. Trusting that He delights in cooking up wonderful relationships, families and life stories with us is a good recipe to remember. I like knowing that He considers each of us an essential ingredient in creating yummy fare that draws others toward Him and toward the banquet of Heaven. Bon Appetit!
This post first appeared recently on the Catholic Writer’s Guild blog. Catholic Writer’s Guild member, author, speaker and catechist, Cathy Gilmore, cultivates spiritual imagination through her books and blogging. Cathy’s favorite “salt delivery device” is popcorn.
If you need something sweet for someone you love, get a taste of the adorable storybook: Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day that Cathy co- authored with her sister Carol. It is a tale in which a tiny bunny shows us that we can all trust in the loving kindness of Jesus. The Easter Bunny in this story knows the reason we give candy on Easter…because the love of Jesus is so SWEET!