Salted and Salt — Powerful Witness

The Old Testament, when read through the cross and resurrection of Christ Jesus yields some amazing nourishment.shroud of turin

Take for example the wonderful interplay between the tower of Babel and Pentecost which we just celebrated. The Kontakion (thematic hymn) for the feast says,

“When the Most High came down and confused the tongues, he divided the nations. But when he distributed the tongues of fire, he called all to unity. Therefore, with one voice, we glorify the All-Holy Spirit!”

The gospel reading appointed for yesterday (May 23rd, 2013) speaks about salting and salt. It states, “For every one will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its saltness, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9.49-50)

You and I are salted with the fire of the Holy Spirit. You and I are, by the salting of the love of God, to die and be born anew. We are to become salt that we might salt the world with the fire of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus says in another place, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. (Matthew 5. 13)

Turned into salt… Hmmm. Where have I heard this kind of stuff before? Ah, yes. Lot’s wife… Lot’s wife ? ! What ? !

[15] When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.”
[16] But he lingered; so the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him forth and set him outside the city.
[17] And when they had brought them forth, they said, “Flee for your life; do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley; flee to the hills, lest you be consumed.”
[18] And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords;
[19] behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life; but I cannot flee to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me, and I die. lots wife becomes salt
[20] Behold, yonder city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there — is it not a little one? — and my life will be saved!”
[21] He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.
[22] Make haste, escape there; for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zo’ar.
[23] The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zo’ar.
[24] Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomor’rah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;
[25] and he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
[26] But Lot’s wife behind him looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19.15-26)

So, Lot’s wife was salted with the fire of God’s love visited on Sodom and Gomorrah. She shared in their disobedience by not trusting in and living in agreement with His love. She became what she believed – salt. She fled but she turned back toward. Our obedience must be, as Eugene Peterson says, “a long obedience in the same direction.” We must persevere in setting our eyes on the face of Christ. “Thy face, O Lord, will I seek.” Perseveringly seek…

One becomes salt as a testimony to the power of disobedience and one as a powerful witness to the consequence of obedience. Both in relationship to God’s love but two very different witnesses.

Hebrews continues the theme of the fire of the Holy Spirit and adds the idea of “shaking.” What endures, endures as a witness to either the power of the love of God in the life of someone who receives it and lives in agreement with it … or not …

[25] See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.
[26] His voice then shook the earth; but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.”
[27] This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what is shaken, as of what has been made, in order that what cannot be shaken may remain.
[28] Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe;
[29] for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12.25-29)

St. Thomas Aquinas composed a beautiful prayer that, basically, beseeches the Holy Spirit to “salt” him. In so doing, he beseeches the Spirit to turn him into a strong pillar of salt in this world as a witness to the power of the love of God in and through the life of someone who says their persevering “yes” of loving trust to God.

Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas – For the Salting of the Holy Spirit (St. Thomas recited this daily before the image of Christ)

O merciful God, grant that I may desire ardently, search prudently, recognize truly, and bring to perfect completion whatever is pleasing to You for the praise and glory of Your name.

Put my life in order, O my God.

Grant that I may know what You require me to do.

Bestow upon me the power to accomplish Your will, as is necessary and fitting for the salvation of my soul.

Grant to me, O Lord my God, that I may not falter in times of prosperity or adversity, so that I may not be exalted in the former, nor dejected in the latter.

May I not rejoice in anything unless it leads me to You; may I not be saddened by anything unless it turns me from You.

May I desire to please no one, nor fear to displease anyone, but You.

May all transitory things, O Lord, be worthless to me and may all things eternal be ever cherished by me.

May any joy without You be burdensome for me and may I not desire anything else besides You.

May all work, O Lord, delight me when done for Your sake and may all repose not centered in You be ever wearisome for me.

Grant unto me, my God, that I may direct my heart to You and that in my failures I may ever feel remorse for my sins and never lose the resolve to change.

O Lord my God, make me submissive without protest, poor without discouragement, chaste without regret, patient without complaint, humble without posturing, cheerful without frivolity, mature the eyes of christwithout gloom, and quick-witted without flippancy.

O Lord my God, let me fear You without losing hope, be truthful without guile, do good works without presumption, rebuke my neighbor without haughtiness, and—without hypocrisy—strengthen him by word and example.

Give to me, O Lord God, a watchful heart, which no capricious thought can lure away from You.

Give to me a noble heart, which no unworthy desire can debase.

Give to me a resolute heart, which no evil intention can divert.

Give to me a stalwart heart, which no tribulation can overcome.

Give to me a temperate heart, which no violent passion can enslave.

Give to me, O Lord my God, understanding of You, diligence in seeking You, wisdom in finding You, discourse ever pleasing to You, perseverance in waiting for You, and confidence in finally embracing You.

Grant that with Your hardships I may be burdened in reparation here, that Your benefits I may use in gratitude upon the way, that in Your joys I may delight by glorifying You in the Kingdom of Heaven. You Who live and reign, God, world without end. Amen. Source

Turn me into a living-giving pillar of salt (a witness to the power of love to save) as I daily, join St. Thomas Aquinas, and turn my glance away from the world that is passing away by fire and fix it steadfastly on the icon of your lovely face, O Lord …

Fr. Thomas

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