Is there any kind/type of food that you will not eat?
“Have you ever eaten a salt sandwich?” …mmmm! Or not, as the case may be. We just don’t do that, do we? We never think about eating a salt sandwich, because salt doesn’t work by itself. The purpose of salt in food is to enhance the flavor of the food. It is not meant to stand out on its own, but to make what is there more flavorful. I remember one time blindly salting some of my mom’s chow mein –that she had already over salted… woof… It makes this sandwich look appealing. And I had to eat it… I never salted anything again until I had tasted the food first. Salt does it’s thing while being invisible. It works best by drawing attention away from itself.
You are the salt of the earth, Jesus tells us. And because of that, guess what, folks? It’s not about you. It’s not about you. Nor is it about me. It is about what happens between us. It is about what we flavor- the relationships we enter into and the lives we pour ourselves out into. It is about being what Isaiah hinted at today – people who share our bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed, who clothe the naked, who do not turn our back on our own. Those are all descriptions of what happens between and among us. So, it is not about us at all, but about the loving and the giving that connects us.
Furthermore, Jesus tells us, not that we are ‘salt’ but rather, we are “salt of the earth.” Which means we should be mixed up with the reality that is around us. We should be involved with everything that is around us…
So, what does that look like on a regular basis? Last week, (and every January) the challenge was to continue to be salt and light for the unborn. And whether you did that by prayer, by making the trek to DC for the March for Life; by writing your Senator or Representative in supporting various legislative works, by the monthly contribution to Birthright in our gathering area – we continue our stance for the most vulnerable in our society. This week, because of Monday’s executive order, we are called to do the same for another group of people who are also vulnerable – the refugee fleeing persecution and the immigrant hoping for a better life.
You have heard more than you probably care to hear about the Presidential ‘ban’ on people coming into the U.S. if they live in 7 specific countries. Archbishop Carlson this statement in response to that presidential action:
“Th[e] Gospel mandate to actively reach out and welcome the stranger has guided our Catholic social values and practices for centuries. Throughout our Catholic tradition, we have learned to be attentive to the needs of the poor, the marginalized, and the vulnerable. In faith, we have come to recognize and know the face of Christ in the migrant and refugee.
Furthermore, as Catholics we believe that our responsibility to help the most vulnerable means helping those in need, especially those who in our day are forcibly being displaced from their homes and are experiencing incredible difficulties. Our commitment to life and religious freedom teaches us that we must welcome all faiths and cultures at our shores and doors, mindful of the inherent dignity found in them and ready to grow in God’s grace. In faith, we believe that each person, regardless of their official status, is made in the image and likeness of God, and as such deserves to be treated with respect, justice, and love.” (You can read the whole text (worth the time) on the Archdiocesan Website.)
So, we who are called specifically to be the salt of the Earth/the salt of the United States – how are we to flavor this national debate? How are we to be a community of salt and light for the world? I confess, I am more comfortable with thinking about that on a small stage of my own actions. How can I be salt and light. The call this week, is to go beyond ME to US. Yet it is hard to know how to proceed. Laws on immigration and resettling refugees are complex, even before this week.
• Certainly donations to CRS and Catholic Charity groups who work with refugees a good start.
• One of the neat things that had occurred at my former parish was that years ago, the parish ‘adopted’ a Vietnamese family, brought them to the states, got them settled in a house, helped them to find a job, etc. I wonder, could we at St. Justin adopt a refugee family? Find them a house? Create a warm welcome for just one family fleeing oppression?
• Or, there is a parishioner, Erin Hopfinger, who is in the initial steps of founding a social justice group in the parish, to address the systemic needs of justice. We do a good job here with the corporal works of mercy. This group will look to the more systemic responses to see how we might, as believers, flavor the works of justice in our world. Just as we still have many founding members of the parish around, how amazing would it be for you to be a founding pillar of that little organization.
Salt sandwich anyone? Probably not. But to be salt and light for the world? AHHH, now we’re talking…