“You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Father Dempsey offers a fascinating glimpse into the importance of this image used by Jesus in today’s gospel.
“Although in the middle of an Ottawa winter, we might think first of salt as an agent for melting ice on roads and sidewalks, its primary historical uses have been as a preservative and for flavoring food. Anyone who has ever been on a salt-free diet knows how tasteless things can be without salt. Although we now have a bank of other preservatives, salt was essential in past ages to keep meat for a long period of time.
In the Old Testament, God made an inviolable covenant, literally a “covenant of salt” with Aaron and his descendants (Numbers 18:19). In 2 Chronicles 13:5, the bestowal of lands by God as a promise to David and his descendants is referred to also as a “covenant of salt.” It was believed that eating a bit of salt together was a sign of agreement by the parties in any covenant. It used to be part of the Catholic baptismal ritual to place a pinch of salt on the tongue of the newly baptized to symbolize the permanency of the relationship established and prayer that God would help the newly baptized persevere in the commitment.
As salt of the earth we are called to preserve all that is good and true as well as add flavor that brings out the good for people around us.”