“Don't let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love.” (Saint Josemaría).
Pretty much the cheapest thing to buy in the supermarket these days is good, old-fashioned salt. Table salt, cooking salt and rock salt, iodised salt and non-iodised salt – just the name a few.
Salt is a wonderful little substance that can be used for a wide variety of things. We put it into savoury food (and into sweet food too) to season it. We use it to preserve and to pickle fresh foods. And we use it to brine meats. We can even use it in the treatment of wounds (and for wound management) to reduce the chance of infection and maintain sterility.
And I have been thinking about the purpose of salt as I have been reflecting on a beautiful little passage in the Gospel where Christ tells the apostles that they are the “SALT” of the earth…
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16).
And I have been thinking about that salt and that light that Christ describes because in and of themselves, salt and light are worthless. After all, one would hardly use salt on its own, rather than as a seasoning or preservative or steriliser; and everyone knows that we are encouraged to turn lights off if there is nobody inside a room. You see, though salt and light give to others, they do not benefit themselves from what they give. In other words, meat tastes nicer for being salted and a room is easier to live inside if it is well-lit.
And I have been thinking about this as I go about my day and reflect upon what it means to really be a Catholic… Because Saint Josemaría said, “Don't let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love.”
And I have been reflecting on that light and that shining and giving to others as I have been reading about the experience of the 2,579 Catholic priests who were imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau during the Second World War. That camp where thousands upon thousands to human beings were exterminated as though their lives were of no importance, was a terrible dark place filled with brutality, torture and despair. And yet, survivors recall a different atmosphere in the “Priest Block”, where the imprisoned men served each other and fought for food and supplies only where they could be used for the sick and the weak. And the attitude of those priests allowed those other prisoners to feel the light of Christ, and feeling that, to experience some hope… Because there – in that concentration camp – where all humanity seemed dead, Christ’s light shone through the apostles…
And I have to stop and marvel at the miracle of that!
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.