August 26, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Luke 14:34-35.
“Salt is good, but if salt itself loses its taste, with what can its flavor be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor the manure pile; it is thrown out. Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”
These verses come right after Jesus has told the crowd following him what is required to be a disciple — “total dedication and detachment from family and possessions” according to the notes in the New American Bible. In Matthew’s version Jesus is teaching his disciples and includes the light of the world aphorism as well.
This reminds me that sometimes I find myself sitting in church and suddenly realize that I haven’t really been listening. I try to pick up on what the priest or deacon is saying in his homily or I have to start at the beginning of one of the readings to fill in the gap. I think Jesus is talking to me at times like that when he says, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” In other words, wake up, pay attention, pay heed. I can’t be an on-again, off-again disciple, tuning in and out when I want.
Jesus’ mission was to call people to live in the kingdom of God here and now. The greatest commandment to bring that about was to love God, love yourself, and love one another. As Barclay writes, “That is the function of the Christian; if he fails in his function there is no good reason why he should exist at all; and we have already seen that in the economy of God uselessness invites disaster.”
Jesus has no use for me if I don’t strive to be God’s instrument in creating His kingdom alongside Him, if I don’t enliven all my relationships with His spirit. Jesus is presenting me a choice. If I choose to turn my back on people and attach myself to possessions and anxieties, I lose that goodness, that character that makes everything taste better. Or I can choose to be his disciple and accept the sacrifice of self-centered and selfishness that is required. I can’t have it both ways. I can’t serve two masters. It’s one or the other — the kingdom or the manure pile.
First, Jesus tells me that I am good; I am the salt of the earth. In fact, wouldn’t that be a wonderful epitaph for my life — He was the salt of the earth? If I have ears that listen to Jesus and follow in His footsteps, maybe that will be said of me. If so, I will have lived in the kingdom of God and will be taken into His heavenly kingdom as well.