Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Seasoned with salt...

"For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is a good thing; but if the salt loses its saltiness, what will you season it with? Have salt in yourselves; and be at peace with one another." Mark 9: 49,50

Some scholars have suggested that these three salt-sayings are really independent of one another, as if Jesus said them at different times and under different circumstances. Perhaps as the Evangelist wrote his Gospel he simply lumped them together for convenience. 

As with the previous sayings, they are mysterious, but not because they are up-in-the-clouds and so far removed from us, but because they are so close to us, right under our noses, we can miss their meaning. Here is a verse from the Hebrew Scriptures, The Book of Leviticus, that might help us to understand:

"None of the cereal offerings which you offer to Yahweh must be prepared with leaven, for you must never include leaven or honey in food burnt for Yahweh. You may offer them to Yahweh as an offering of first-fruits, but they will not make a pleasing smell if they are burnt on the altar. You will put salt in every cereal offering that you offer, and you will not fail to put the salt of the covenant of your God on your cereal offering; to every offering you will add an offering of salt to your God." Leviticus 2:11-13

In the Hebrew Scriptures the temple gifts were burnt because human beings are fickle and so to emphasize that a gift to God is really that - a gift - it was burnt so it couldn't be taken back. Makes sense!

And now that whole system of temple sacrifice of grains, calves, kid-goats, lambs and doves is over. Perhaps Jesus consciously ended it when he turned over the tables in the temple where animals were being sold for sacrifices.

Now it's not not dead animals, but we're the sacrifice. Our offering is the alive offering of ourselves and all we do, our thanks, our praise. We might remember the 1960's Joe Wise song we sang at Mass?

Yours as we stand at the table you set,
Yours as we eat the bread our hearts can't forget,
We are the sign of Your life with us yet.
We are Yours. We are Yours.

Take our bread, we ask you

take our hearts,
we love you, take our lives,
O Father, we are Yours,
We are Yours.

Even our standing is a gift to God, our heart's remembering, the living out of each of our days. And what about the salt?

  • As salt wakes up food - wake yourself up as a living offering to God. Wake up to the realm of the Spirit!
  • As salt is a preservative - preserve yourself from hatred and delusion.
  • As salt is a catalyst (making chemical reactions happen) - that I would experience some new and enduring heart-reaction to God in Christ.

"Have salt in yourselves." Human tears are salty. I'm wondering if Jesus is inviting us to shed tears, not for ourselves, but salty tears for the sorrows of the world. 

Tears for the money waste: Some say three billion dollars. Others, five billion. Still others, six billion dollars to elect a new president? 

Tears for our worship, if even unwitting, of false gods. Build a football stadium; you're amazing. Build a cathedral; you're a fool.

Tears for the sex exploitation of girls and young women, the turning of young boys into soldiers and all the decisions that leave children worse off, even dead.

Tears for the planet's destruction by greed and human stupidity: every fifteen minutes a great elephant is killed and hacked to pieces for its tusks, which are then carved into Chinese baubles.

Let's pay attention to the salt-sayings of Jesus!


  1. I love these analogies that you make. Your words make me take pause to seriously think about the different ways I can offer myself as a better person.

  2. Jesus lived in a culture where teachers employed memorable story-images to make a point and to help folks retain it: sheep, coins, plants, birds, yeast, family relationships, parties, buried treasure...even salt! Let us thank Jesus - good teacher.

  3. I am glad that we don't have to offer burnt sacrifices to please God. Jesus brought great change to humanity and with it came great responsibility. Now we offer our salty tears for all of our destructive actions. I will use the salt within me to preserve my faith in all things good.

  4. As I was reading this I thought of salt as a preservative, and then there it was in your reflection here. Also when salt is rubbed in a wound, it stings and burns, causing more pain. But salt also helps to clean the wound and heal without further infection. Sometimes the pain is needed to be clean and free.