Blogging Towards Sunday, February 6
Jesus continues the Teaching on the Mount. Begun with a proclamation of a new reality - the Kingdom of God birthed in the uttering of the Beatitudes, he continues teaching on what a new way of being in this new reality looks like. He uses metaphor and story to say what you can't quite say in words, a hope, a feeling, a thought, a promise that defies syntax. Salt. Light.
Two powerful, yet basic components of life. Salt purifies, preserves, flavors and kills. Used by the ancient for food preserving before ice blocks and refrigerators. Used by the Roman military to destroy forever the soil and adversarial power of ancient Carthage. Use by all to bring out hinted flavors in food to delight our palates. Light transforms everything. Even the smallest candle can change the visibility, mood and experience of a dark, cold room. They're powers are sneaky in a sense, subversive, turning what we expect and sense upside down and pointed towards a reality of much more. That's what Jesus invites us to.
I read this week that "the hardest of faith is not being a Christian for a day, but in being faithful day after day, maintaining confidence in what, for all the world, seems to be a losing cause." The interesting thing about salt and light is that they can be overpowered and then overlooked. With lots of spices, herbs and sauces, you can not detect the salt. In a room filled with multiple light you can overlook the one that seems to clarify the most. I think Jesus is reminding us of who we're called to be and conscious of the challenge of being that - living into it - day by day. We talk about losing our faith, yet the hardest part of following Jesus is balancing his call and teaching with everything else around us: activities, commitments, relationships, doubt, self-doubt, fear, a desire for the habitual, the comfort of security and surety.
It's so easy to berate ourselves when we feel lost. It's so easy to doubt God when appearances don't match our expectations. And yet maybe what Jesus is saying is that faithfulness has first and foremost to do with identity: not forgetting who or what we are.