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43. Salt of the earth
43. Salt of the earth
Ministry II (Jairus’ Daughter, 5,000 fed, Upon This rock etc)

43. Salt of the earth

Mark 9, 38-50: Luke 9, 49-50. A.D. 29. Age 32 Capernaum.

Salt of the earth. JOHN  said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name: and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us, is on our part.

For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? You are the salt of the earth. Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.

Scripture: Mark 9:38-41

Meditation 1 of 2: 

Do you rejoice in the good that others do? Jesus reprimands his disciples for their jealousy and suspicion. They were upset that someone who was not of their company was performing a spiritual work in the name of Jesus. They even “forbade” the man “because he was not following us”. Jesus’ reply is filled with wisdom: “No one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me.” Are we not like the disciples when we get upset at the good deeds of others who seem to shine more than us? Paul says that “love is not jealous… but rejoices in the right” (1 Cor. 13:4,6). Envy and jealousy, its counterpart, are sinful because they lead us to sorrow over what should make us rejoice — namely, our neighbor’s good. The reason we may grieve over our another’s good  is that somehow we see that good as lessening our own value or excellence.  Envy forms when we believe that the other person’s advantage or possession diminishes or brings disgrace on us. Envy is contrary to love. Both the object of love and the object of envy is our neighbor’s good, but by contrary movements, since love rejoices in our neighbor’s good, while envy grieves over it. How can we overcome envy? With the love that God puts into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).  This love seeks the highest good of our neighbor.  Ask the Lord to fill you with the fire of his purifying love that you may always rejoice in the good of others, even in those you find disagreeable.

The love of Christ not only frees us from envy and jealousy, but it compels us to give generously, especially to those in need. Every one in need has a claim on us because they are dear to Christ and bear the image and likeness of God. God created us in love for love. The charity we show to our neighbor in his or her need expresses the gratitude we have for the abundant goodness and kindness of God towards us. Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to the people of Christ will not lose its reward. Jesus never refused to give to anyone in need who asked for his help.  As his disciples we are called to be kind and generous as he is. Are you grateful for God’s mercy and kindness towards you and are you ready to show that same kindness and generosity towards your neighbor?

Gregory of Nyssa, a fourth century church father comments on this passage: “God never asks his servants to do what is impossible.  The love and goodness of his Godhead is revealed as richly available.  It is poured out like water upon all. God furnished to each person according to his will the ability to do something good.  None of those seeking to be saved will be lacking in this ability, given by the one who said: ‘whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.’” Ask the Holy Spirit to transform your heart by the fire of his love that you may wholly desire what is good for your neighbor.

“Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may radiate the joy of the gospel to others.  May your light and truth shine through me that others may find new life and freedom from sin and the corruption of evil.” 

Scripture: Mark 9:42-50

Meditation 2 of 2: Salt of the earth

Was Jesus’ exaggerating when he urged his followers to use drastic measures to avoid evil and its harmful consequences?  Jesus set before his disciples the one supreme goal in life that is worth any sacrifice, and that goal is God himself and his will for our lives which leads to everlasting peace and happiness.  Just as a doctor might remove a limb or some part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us to sin and which leads to spiritual death. Jesus warns his disciples of the terrible responsibility that they must set no stumbling block  in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin.  The Greek word for temptation (scandalon) is exactly the same as the English word scandal.  The original meaning of scandal is a trap or a stumbling block which causes one to trip and fall.  The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith.  Do you set a good example for others to follow, especially the young?

What does Jesus mean when he says “have salt in yourselves”? Salt served a very useful purpose in hot climates before the invention of electricity and refrigeration. Salt not only gave food flavor, it also preserved meat from spoiling. Salt was used as a symbol of fellowship and the common meal.  The near-Eastern expression to betray the salt meant to betray one’s Master or some person who was owed loyalty and devotion.  Leonardo da Vinci in his painting of the Last Supper depicts Judas in the act of tipping over the salt shaker, thus symbolically identifying himself as the betrayer of his Master.  Jesus used the image of salt to describe how his disciples are to live in the world. As salt purifies, preserves, and penetrates, so the disciple must be as salt in the world of human society to purify, preserve, and penetrate that society for the kingdom of God and of his righteousness and peace. What did Jesus mean by the expression “salted with fire” and “salt becoming saltless”?  Salt was often put in ovens to intensify the heat.  When the salt was burned off and no longer useful it was thrown out on the road or on the roof top where it would easily get trodden upon. Perhaps Jesus wanted to contrast useful salt used for giving flavor and for preserving food with salt which was burned and no longer of much benefit, to encourage his disciples to be faithful witnesses and to not neglect the opportunity to influence others for the kingdom of God through the witness of their lives and their testimony to the power of the kingdom of God.

“Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may radiate the joy of the gospel to others.  May your light and truth shine through me that others may find new life and freedom from sin and the corruption of evil.” Salt of the earth


 

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