“You are the salt of the earth.”
Living within the Region of Waterloo provides us with opportunity to enjoy both urban and rural life. Within minutes and without having to contend with the 401 Highway, we can drive in any direction and enjoy the surrounding countryside of South Western Ontario. Travelling west, and following county roads through Wilmot township and beyond, across Oxford, Perth and Huron counties we pass through lush agricultural farmland. Much of the route we take today follows the original Old Huron Road. It was built in the 1830’s by English immigrants who were sponsored to settle along its route in places such as Preston, Blair and Haysville and further west in the settlements of Sebringville, Clinton and Seaforth. Through what was then dense forest, they cleared trees over 30 meters high to build a corduroy road. In one direction it carried grain to the shores of Lake Huron. But most importantly, it allowed salt to be readily transported from the massive salt mines at Goderich to Guelph, Hamilton and York.
Salt remains a precious and necessary commodity for civilization and community development. Initially, roads were required to transport salt from its source to other areas of human settlement. Salt has been important to humans for thousands of years, because all life has evolved to depend on it. Our dependence upon salt is no doubt related to our evolution from organisms of lifeforms that first developed in the primeval oceans billions of years ago. Humans, like all life, require dietary salt to survive. Salt’s ability to preserve food was a founding contributor to civilization. It helped to eliminate dependence on seasonal availability of food, and made it possible to ship some foods over long distances. Salt was often difficult to obtain. Consequently, it was a highly valued trade item, and used a form of currency by certain peoples.
Salt is used as a metaphor in the Bible. When Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth”, He added that if the salt loses its flavour, it is good for nothing but to be trampled. Jesus said this to show his disciples how valuable they were. We are called to be the salt of the earth. In following Jesus, we are called to preserve the society and the world around us from moral decay.
As leader of the Western world, Donald Trump is the antithesis of every Christian value from his self-absorbed personal life and lewd sexism, to his aggrandizement of money, power, and success. His abusive executive orders issued over these past two weeks injure those most vulnerable among us. They encourage acts of intolerance and hate such as last Sunday’s horrific mass murder of devout Muslims kneeling in prayer in Quebec City. We are witnessing firsthand what happens when moral authority sells out the marginalized ― refugees, immigrants, religious and ethnic minorities, sexual assault survivors, the sick and those with disabilities, and LGBTQ people ― for the promise of power.
It is vital we confront this by remaining faithful to the words and deeds of Jesus. Caring for “the least of these” are fundamental tenets for those of us who follow in his way. When he said of us, ‘You are the salt of the earth’ he surely meant that we are to draw out the liveliness and savour of God’s love in this world; that we are to be a sign of God’s eternal fidelity; that we are to bring to judgment all that is opposed to the priorities of divine justice as expressed in act of love and compassion, kindness and peace.
It is our moral obligation to be vigilant. We must be vigilant in identifying and confronting evil political powers and social behaviour that demean and shake the human spirit. We must be prepared to embrace its victims by providing a sanctuary of security and kindness for our most vulnerable neighbour. It re-quires us to have the courage and readiness to speak out whenever we witness others ridiculed, or their dignity imperiled. Whenever we overhear in conversation or witness them offended, it offends us all. Without hesitation, we must make this known. We also must find ways to share this with our children and grandchildren and their school companions. The biblical images of salt provide us with a theological foundation: to be a persistent presence of Jesus. Now, as ever, we are called to be “the salt of the earth”.
N. Carver 05.02.2017
The Church of the Holy Saviour, Waterloo