God has anointed us and made us secure in Christ, he has put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment. Paul’s pronouncement to the Corinthians is a theological statement about our baptism and the very real and effective transformation of being that takes place in it. It is a transformation that empowers us to be, as Jesus says, salt of the earth.
On Holy Saturday night, the vigil opens with fire which is then blessed. The flame is used to light the Paschal candle which burns in our sanctuary from Easter to Pentecost.
As you might already know, I use salt and some rubbing alcohol to produce our Easter fire. Salt is a catalyst which burns with other flammable elements to create a fire that is very hot but smokeless. While I add isopropyl alcohol to the salt, our ancestors used something that was plentiful and lying about on all their roads - animal dung. Each village in Israel had a common oven that was used by all the women in the village to bake their bread which was the principal food in their subsistence diet. The oven had a layer of salt upon which the dried dung was laid and then lit.
However, salt loses its catalytic quality and must eventually be replaced. However, the village would use the salt on their roads to create traction, much the same way we might use sand.
So Jesus’ pronouncement about salt which has lost its savor is taken right out of the daily lives of these people. It is a lesson they would completely understand. We are meant to be the catalyst in our world which provides for the light which we have received in our baptism to be kept burning. Salt was so valuable to these people, used for so many different purposes, that it also was used as currency in some cultures. Jesus knew that the world needed salt and asks each of us to be the salt of the earth. St. Paul reminds us that this mission was given to us at our baptism.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator