Category: Member Posts

Be Careful What You Ask For ~ The Rt. Rev. Jay Van Lieshout, OPI

Children, in their hopeful innocence, often ask their parents for things which, in their young mind’s eyes, would be the most spectacular blessing a child could ever receive, such as a new pet, a real diamond princess tiara, or a red rider BB gun.  To parents, such requests are annoying since, as any adult knows, such gifts are unrealistic, requiring more care than a child might be willing or able to give, or be to costly and impractical or to dangerous and they might shoot their eye out!  Adults, out of passion or deep desire are also prone to such impetuous requests from those they deeply admire and respect, such as a mentor, a boss or even a clergy member; denial of these requests can be just as heartbreaking as denying children.  The brothers John the apostle and James the greater, were Galilean fishermen who initially followed St. John the baptist and were subsequently called by Jesus to be two of His first disciples.  These rugged men had mild dispositions, but when ignited by passion, their outbursts raged like a tempest such that Jesus affectionately called them the “sons of thunder”.

In Mark’s Gospel 10:35-45, Jesus and His disciples were on the road to Jerusalem.  Jesus had just told the twelve of His impending passion and they, of course, did not understand God’s plan.  It is not surprising that the brothers asked to be at Jesus’ side when all is done, for the disciples interpreted what Jesus was telling them through worldly eyes; eyes clouded by human desire for victory over their oppressors and greatness in a newly established kingdom.  Hence, they believed there would be a battle with the authorities in which Jesus would be victorious; John and James’ wanted to be right there next to Jesus, protecting Him and acting as faithful servants and, like so many of us, they wanted to be special.  Of course, Jesus knew of His impending passion, the pain, the suffering and His eventual sacrifice. He tried to dissuade the brothers, perhaps shaking His head as He explained how difficult it would be, much like when my mother used to ask me: “you really think you are man enough to walk ten miles in my klompen (wooden shoes)?”  And just like me in my impetuous youth, these tough fishermen, these sons of thunder replied with a resounding “Heck yeah we can!”

How sad Jesus must have been, looking into the faces of these men whom He loved so much, men who were already special to Him; knowing what He knew, not only of His own fate, but the martyrdom of James and so many others.   Jesus tells them: “yes, you are strong enough and you will face some of the things I must face, but my fate and your fates will not be the same for HaShem has a different design for each of us.”  Again I hear the words of my mother “be careful of what you ask for, you might just get it and it might not be how you thought.”

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?  Who did you emulate?  What about when you were a teenager, and again when you were in your twenties?  Many of us wanted to be like our parents at first, then we changed our minds at puberty when our parents became lame.  We change our minds again as young adults and finally, we reach an age where we open our mouths and, much to our suprise, out comes things our parents said; “be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.”  What a shock to admit our parents may have been correct! We all need role models to help shape our lives, to make us feel special, to give us hope, life direction and goals.  As children, it is our parents who make us feel special, along with the superheroes, athletes and thespians of screen and stage, all whom we try to emulate.  In adulthood, like the disciples, we turn to our mentors, leaders, bosses, Jesus, the saints and even our parents as role models to admire and imitate.   Yet, as we desire to emulate these personal heroes, we must always be cautious to remember HaShem has a plan for each of us.  I may wish to be a great preacher like St. Dominic, yet I cannot be St. Dominic; you may desire to walk the same path as St. Francis, but his path was HaShem’s gift for him and yours will not be the same.  No matter how much we desire to emulate St. Dominic, St. Francis, Padre Pio, St. Benedict or any saint or hero, the best we can hope for is a poor imitation, and that is ok!  If we get lost in trying to be great like our heroes, in trying to be special to those in the world, we risk losing ourselves to the world, to greed, to hunger for power and authority, in so doing we will stumble and fail as our feet become too big for our klompen.  True heroes stand out because of their humility, devotion to servitude, and realization that to HaShem all people are special.  They seek to decrease themselves so that they might allow other to increase; they gladly walk barefoot because they have given their klompen away.   As Jesus taught James, John and the disciples “ whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave  (Mark 10:43-44)  The brothers asked to stand by Jesus so that they might know that they are indeed valued coheirs to His heavenly kingdom, and so they got it, but not in the way any of them expected… “be careful of what you ask for, you might just get it and it might not be how you thought.”

 

Every week we send up our petitions to HaShem, we ask for salvation, for guidance, for strength and wisdom; we ask that we might become a little more favored, a little more extraordinary.  We hear the Good News, we sing our Creator’s praises and take the divine into ourselves so that we might merit to carry the light of Christ out with us and spread it throughout the world.  We pray that the heavenly kingdom might come as HaShem’s will is finally done through us right here on earth, and that we might be worthy to sit next to our Lord in heaven.  But my brothers and sisters, this path is not easy and as mom always said: “be careful of what you ask for.”  Yet, in the end, is it not worth asking for the ability to live a saints life?  Is it not worth asking for a chance to carry the light of Christ out into the world so that others might no longer live in darkness?  Is it not worth asking strength to lift up those around us?  So we should ask for the strength and humility to walk the path HaShem has set out for us, and if the gravel hurts your bare feet, don’t worry, you may have my klompen.

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Those for Whom It Has Been Prepared ~ The Rev. Shawn Gisewhite, OPI

He said to them, My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.

James and John are looking for the best seat in the house. They want to sit next to Jesus, in his glory, one on his right and one on his left. That seat, however, is only for those for whom it has been prepared.

James and John sound a bit arrogant and self-seeking.  They are interested in privilege, honor, and status. That’s often how this text is interpreted. There is certainly no lack of that kind of behavior in our world! We’ve all seen it in others and, if we are totally honest, in ourselves as well. Maybe the usual interpretation and judgment are more a statement about our own motives than that of James and John. Maybe that’s why the other ten are so upset. Maybe, however, there is more to this story than the usual interpretation. Maybe there is another way to understand what is going on not only in the text, but with us as well.

When we were small children we may have fought with our sibling(s) over who got to sit next to mom or dad. In elementary school we wanted to sit next to our best friend. In high school we wanted to sit next to the cutest boy or the prettiest girl. When we got married we wanted to sit as close as possible to our spouse, and still do to this day.

We all have those people in our lives that attract and draw us to them. Their lives speak to us of love and friendship. They show us something about ourselves. Their presence changes who we are. They call from us the best part of who we are. In them we catch a glimpse of something holy, something meaningful, something that gives life. We want to get as close as we can. We don’t want to let it slip away. We want to be next to them not because of who we are but because of who they are.

That is what Christ offers each one of us today.
That is what James and John have experienced with Jesus.

It began that day at the Sea of Galilee. They caught a glimpse of something in and about Jesus that allowed them to leave their boat, their nets, and their dad. They, along with Peter, would become the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples. They were the ones permitted to see Jairus’ daughter restored to life. They were the ones Jesus took up on the mountain to witness his transfiguration. They have seen things the others did not. They were invited in when the others were not.

All along the way James and John have had a different experience of and relationship with Jesus. They have seen in Jesus something no one else could show them. How could they now not ask to sit next to him in his glory? They are not asking for their own glory but Jesus’ glory. They are only asking for what they have already caught a glimpse of. They do not want to lose the life they have experienced with Christ.

There are moments like that for us as well. They are the times when we absolutely get it. We know that we know. We have glimpsed the beauty, presence, and holiness of Christ in our own life. Everything about our life and world is different. Those are the moments we say, “Grant us to sit at your side, in your glory.” It is not a plea for privilege and entitlement. It is the plea of one who never wants to lose that glimpse, who never wants the moment to end.

Ultimately, that is the moment of decision. Are we willing to drink the cup that Jesus drinks? Are we willing to be baptized with the baptism with which he is baptized? With those questions Jesus is drawing James and John deeper into their own experience of him. He is both affirming and holding them accountable for what they ask. One does not share in Christ’s glory if one does not share in his life, suffering, and death. Glory is not a thing to be had, grasped, or possessed. It is lived. It is not an escape from the world but a deeper engagement of the world. To all this James and John say, “We are able.”

The other ten do not get it. They are angry and indignant at James and John but it’s not really about James and John. They are angry and indignant with themselves, with their own inability to see and experience what James and John have seen and experienced. At a deeper level the anger and indignation of the ten are their own longing and desire for what James and John have glimpsed. They want to say, “We are able,” but they are just not. At least, not now…not yet. I’ve known times like that and I’ll bet you have too.

There are times when the darkness is thick and the desperation is deep. Our world is turned upside down. We’ve lost our place. We sit all by ourselves. We not only do not know what we believe about God, sometimes we don’t know if we even believe in God. It’s easy in those times to be angry with and jealous of those who seem to get it. Why them? Why not us?

Jesus does not allow the ten to sit by themselves. He calls them. He permits no separation between the ten and James and John. Regardless of where they are on the journey, their experiences, questions, or struggles they are to walk the same path. They are all to be servants of one another and slaves of all. They now stand as one body of disciples. They walk one path. They follow one Lord. There’s something profound and hopeful about that. Taken together the twelve represent and describe our lives, our faith, and our experience.

We know James and John, and we know the ten. We can see ourselves in them. So who are we? What is your life like today? Are you James and John or are you the ten? Yes. The answer is, “Yes.” BOTH live within us. Our experience of one does not preclude an experience of the other. Don’t forget James and John, the ones who got it, were also the ones who fell asleep at Gethsemane while Jesus prayed.

We are the ten……and we are James and John. Sometimes we catch the glimpse. Other times we can only long to catch that glimpse. Both are a part of the journey. Both are expressions of faithfulness. Both are given the life of Christ. Both can become “those for whom it has been prepared.”

Amen.

 

Jesus, Physician of Body and Soul: The Feast of St. Luke ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Liturgical Colour: Red

1st Reading: 2 TM 4: 10=17B.

R Psalm: PS 145: 10=13, 17=18

Gospel: LK 10: 1=9

Today we commemorate St. Luke the Evangelist, Patron saint of Physicians. Luke, from his perspective, records for us in his Gospel writings, the life of Jesus=from His birth at Bethlehem, through His ministry and His many healings. How Jesus heals the blind, the deaf, and the lame.

Luke tells us of the peace which Jesus speaks to all, because Jesus is indeed the peace and healing of God, then in human form. That is why in Luke 10, Jesus tells the 72, to say, “Peace be with this house”, as he sends them out as apostles of his peace.

Jesus gives us spiritual healing and peace which forgives our sins, and which reconciles us with God, our Heavenly Father, by His death upon the cross for us.

Jesus is truly the physician of our Soul. He knows all too well, that we are sick with sin, but it deters him not. Each and every one of us, is precisely why He came to earth to be amongst us, the reason he lived with us upon the earth, and why he suffered, bled, was tortured, and died for all our sakes.

Jesus came down from Heaven to our world, to take from us our dark sickness of sin and of death, and to heal us, to bring us true life and salvation. He took all upon himself for us upon the cross, our sickness and death, died with the Lord, to all who truly believe, love and follow Him. We are forgiven, we are healed, we are saved, we are at peace.

If we truly examine our lives, we will see our constant need for healing of the sins of this world. As with the body, if we are sick, we see our dr for diagnosis and treatment, that’s why today, we give thanks to God for His servant, Luke, the Evangelist. It’s Luke’s role to bring Jesus, His healing and peace to each of us through the living and active word of God.

The word of God is the scalpel of Jesus our physician and saviour. With total precision, Jesus’ laws cuts us and ‘kills’ the sickness of the human condition, so that he can heal us, and give us true life.

Each of the commandments of Jesus is a precise incision of his law. We have failed to fear, love, and trust God above all else as we ought to do. We have failed to use God’s name as we should, and to call upon him as our Father, as his children when in every trouble or need, or to give him worthy thanks and praise. We have ignored God’s Holy word and preaching, we have not loved our neighbour, or helped to eased their needs. We have been bad stewards of earthly material things such as money, or possessions. We have failed in giving kindness and forgiveness to our brothers and sisters.

So indeed, our human sickness of sin is dire=without Jesus as our Lord, our Saviour, and physician, the diagnosis is terminal.

But Jesus is merciful, he does not delight in punishment. Jesus our physician of our soul, cuts with His law in order to heal us with His Gospel. The Lord heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds (PS 147:3). Jesus has kept on our behalf, all those commandments, which we have failed to truly follow.

If we want to call our dr, we pick up the phone, and wait for an appointment to become available. But Jesus as our physician for our souls, is contactable 24 hrs per day, every single day with no exception. He is contactable easily anytime, day or night, by the important communication of prayer.

So let’s end today with the simplest but most important prayer of all, to our Saviour and physician of our soul:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,  have mercy on me, a sinner.

Amen.

 

Eye of a Needle! ~ The Rev. Dcn. Dollie Wilkinson, OPI

I recently had lunch with my sister. Though we barely live five miles from each other, we rarely get together. Something always comes up, like one of her children gets sick, or my husband has a doctor’s appointment. Life just gets too busy sometimes. But while we were talking yesterday, I started to realize just how much I had missed us hanging out, talking, laughing, sharing stories about our days. Just the simple act of sharing a meal with someone turned in to a heartwarming, bonding experience. I began to think afterwards, how comforting and rewarding the experience was. And, how can I continue to have these type of experiences?

Over the weekend, my granddaughter turned seven. Her mother invited us all to go out to dinner, which was an enjoyable but noisy affair (because there were quite a few of us). Later we went to a pottery place, where the children could paint their own piece of pottery. The kids enjoyed it, including my granddaughter. She also received many presents. We then had a sleepover at a local hotel. The whole experience was fun, and I was blessed to be a part of it. Of course, all of this costs money.

While it would be unfair to compare these two experiences (lunch with my sister and birthday party/sleepover) I can’t help but wonder which one left me more refreshed, joyful, and optimistic. For some reason, lunch with my sister just seemed more enjoyable. I came away feeling better. Just the simple act of spending time with someone, talking and laughing, was way more rewarding. We didn’t even need to eat lunch, just be with each other. This left me wondering why sometimes we feel the need to spend money buying stuff we probably don’t need, or spend money on experiences (sports, video games, movies, etc.). While those things are fine, maybe we need to come up with more ways (for little or no money) to give us the same pleasure and joy we normally get by buying stuff.

Have you heard the saying, “You can’t take it with you”? What does it mean? You came in to this world with nothing, and when you die, you leave with nothing. So why do we spend the years in between, working to acquire so much STUFF? Does it make us happy – maybe for a short time. Does it show others what a good person we are – not always. Does it make life easier – sometimes, sometimes not. Does it get us a free pass to Heaven – definitely not! Jesus reiterates that fact in Mark 10:17-31:

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age–houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions–and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

In the last line of this verse, “but many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Jesus was talking about heaven when He spoke these words, and He actually used this expression on several occasions. Jesus spoke this immediately after a very wealthy young man came to Him and asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. As Jesus talked with him, it became clear that the man was not only rich and powerful, but also very moral and religious. When Jesus listed many of the Ten Commandments, the man could truthfully reply, “All these I have kept” (Matthew 19:20). But Jesus looked beneath the surface of the man’s life and saw what was going on in his heart: He was driven by greed and covetousness. When Jesus challenged him to give up his wealth and become a disciple, “he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Matthew 19:22). He had obeyed every one of the Ten Commandments except the last: “You shall not covet” (Exodus 20:17). Tragically, his wealth and power meant more to him than God. Jesus’ words are a solemn warning to us that earthly success will not get us into heaven. In fact, it can get in the way by blinding us to our own sin. Only Christ can save us, and no matter who we are, we need to give our lives to Him. Are you trusting Him alone for your salvation?

 

 

The Feast of St. Francis ~ An Enduring Friendship ~ St. Francis and St. Dominic

“Francis is the easiest saint to understand and love, while Dominic is the most difficult,” thus saith Chesterton.

This is sadly true for many Catholics and non-Catholics alike. When we think of St. Francis of Assisi: a joyful ever-smiling beggar standing in a lush garden, surrounded by birds, rabbits, and a tame wolf. Everything about Francis has been positive: his preaching to the birds, Canticles of the Sun, and even the newfound love for Pope Francis has propagated this pleasant image of the humble saint.

But then, there is St. Dominic. Who is he? Many, many people have no idea.  Isn’t he that stern-faced preacher wearing a regal black-and-white robe who always carries a book? Didn’t the start the Inquisition?  He must have been a real piece of work.  Maybe he was pretty smart and all, but he doesn’t sound like a real great guy.  Was he?

Unknown to many, St. Francis and St. Dominic were, in reality, contemporaries and friends.  Surprise!!!!  We read the following story:

One summer night in 1215, during his stay in Rome, Francis had a vision: he saw Our Lord prepared to unleash the most terrible chastisements upon the world. His Most Holy Mother was making an effort to placate Him, asking His mercy and forgiveness. For this purpose, she presented two men who would labour for the conversion of the world and return a countless number of lost sheep to the fold. Francis recognised himself as one of these apostles. He did not recognise the other one, however.

The following day, he was in one of the churches of Rome when suddenly an unknown person came up to him, embraced him, and said: “You are my companion, we will work together, supporting one another toward the same end, and no one will prevail against us.” Francis recognised him as the other man in the vision. It was St. Dominic, who had also received a similar vision before the meeting. When he saw Francis in that church, he immediately went to greet him, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

While in reality Dominic loved peace and the poor as much as Francis did (Dominic sold his expensive and rare theology books to feed the victims of famine!), and both had a profound Marian devotion, Francis and Dominic were indeed two very different personalities, and consequently they infused these different characters into their respective orders. The Franciscan Order is known for their simplicity in approach to life and faith. The great conversions of the Franciscans came about through the consideration of the Wounds of Our Lord, His Passion, His poverty and spirit of sacrifice. They preach with zest directly from their fiery souls, for they aim to move the will through the heart.

Meanwhile, the Order of Preachers, the Dominican Order, is the “scholarly order”; to his friars Dominic always emphasised study, because he believed that solid evangelisation wouldn’t be possible if they hadn’t studied first. The Dominican mission is an intellectual work, that is, the study and teaching of philosophy, theology, and apologetics. St. Dominic was known to spend sleepless vigils poring over his books, and later in life these study sessions transformed into nights of thorough preaching and conversions. Indeed, the Dominicans move the will by appealing to the mind.

A great similarity leads to friendship, but so also does a great dissimilarity when it is not the dissimilarity of opposition, but rather one that is complementary. One had something that the other was lacking. Together they constituted a harmonic ensemble. For this reason, they admired one another. These two holy men embraced each other and were enthusiastic for each other’s mission, because although they had different approaches, their end was essentially the same: the conversion of souls and the building of the Kingdom.

To this day, the two orders enjoy a unique and special relationship. The Franciscans celebrate St. Dominic with a Feast, and likewise the Dominicans honour St. Francis of Assisi in their calendar of saints. A Dominican event can be led by a Franciscan friar, and likewise a Franciscan ceremony may be led by a Dominican.  Even in the Litany of the Saints: the names of St. Francis and St. Dominic are mentioned together!

Today, we as a Dominican Order not only celebrate our father, St. Francis, we also celebrate our centuries old friendship with the Franciscan Order.  We wish you all  a very blessed Feast Day!

Your Guardian Angel ~ Br. Chip Noon, Novice

Today is the Memorial of the Guardian Angels, first promulgated in the Roman Calendar in 1607 by Pope Paul V. And yet, today’s Reading from Job conveys all the anguish of a person who thinks there is no help, no peace, no respite from the hardships of this life. Job even laments that death will not come to save the toilers from their misery.

This anguish is reflected also in today’s Psalm:

You have plunged me into the bottom of the pit,
into the dark abyss.
Upon me your wrath lies heavy,
and with all your billows you overwhelm me.

How often have we felt like that? Perhaps more than we would like to admit. Even those of us strong in our faith, I would dare to say, have despaired over some thing or other.

As for myself, I must confess that the thought of my angel by my side is almost never one I turn to in times of trouble. Out of sight, out of mind…

And yet, all through the Bible we find references to our angels, those messengers from God who are charged with out safekeeping. No, I don’t expect my angel to rush in to save me, nor is that what the word of God tells us. But they are powerful in spirit and soul. As “messengers” (the Greek word is angelos) they carry the memory and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, imparting to us urgings and feelings that we should take as comfort, if we would only remember.

Today’s Alleluia from Psalm 103 reminds us: Bless the Lord, all you angels, you ministers, who do his will.

But today’s Gospel gives us clear instruction that we each have an angel who looks on the face of the heavenly Father. Jesus is showing us that though we may be helpless, like little children, our angel is present to give us comfort, again, if we would only remember.

Pope John XXIII reminded us in his Meditation for the Feast of the Guardian Angels:

Everyone of us is entrusted to the care of an angel.

That is why we must have a lively and profound devotion to our own Guardian Angel, and why we should often and trustfully repeat the dear prayer we were taught in the days of our childhood.

May we never fail in this devotion to the angels! During our earthly pilgrimage we may often run the risk of having to face the natural elements in turmoil, or the wrath of men who may seek to do us harm. But our Guardian Angel is always present. Let us never forget him and always remember to pray to him.

And so I remember my mother teaching me this prayer:

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

Whoever is Not Against Us Is for Us~ The Rev. Dcn. Scott Brown, OPI

Based on Today’s Readings:  Mark 9:38-40;45;47-50

Whoever Is Not Against Us Is for Us

38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”  39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Causing to Stumble

42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [44] [a]45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. [46] [b]47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where “‘the worms that eat them do not die,  and the fire is not quenched.’[c]

49 Everyone will be salted with fire.

50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

 Confused? I was when I first read this, but then it dawned on me that I had read a book many years ago titled “Salt – A World History” I am a geek and a nerd down deep, so for me to read a book instead of watch a movie it must be a real doozie of a book. This book taught me a lot about the only rock that we as humans eat, about the rock that used to be used as currency, and about the only rock that can be used as a preservative. I never really thought about how basic salt was to life. I admit, I took salt for granted, and you probably do too. Sure, I know that salt is in the food that I eat, and if the food isn’t tasty enough I will add a little bit of salt to enhance it and make it more palatable. Sure, I know that salt is an essential element for our bodies to continue to be healthy. Without enough salt in our diet we can suffer from any or all of the following symptoms – weakness, fatigue or low energy, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps or spasms, confusion, and irritability.

Sure, I know that salt has many purposes in our world. Salt melts snow in the winter so that we can drive on the roads and get where we need to be. Salt is a natural deodorizer, a drain opener, a cleaner, and an excellent weed preventer for your garden. But to tell you the truth, I never really thought about salt and all of its wonderful uses, it just was, it just is  It is just one of those things in life we take for granted.

Why did Jesus need to say that we need to have salt within ourselves and why does Jesus need to warn us about salt losing its saltiness. I kept coming back to the text and saying, “Jesus no one wants a sermon on the properties of salt. That’s not a message that’s going to keep them coming back for more. Salt is boring. It’s just there. It is a part of life. No one wants a sermon on salt. What in the world does salt have to do with the Kingdom of God? Where is the good news in salt? Jesus couldn’t you come up with some better metaphors?”

We as churches and as people of faith are called to serve. We are called to be the salt of the earth, to be worthy servants of our God. We are called to see beyond boundaries and the lines that separate us and to see the things that unite us, our basic core elements: grace, peace, hope, love, welcoming and most importantly – service. Just like there are some basic elements that unite our bodies and give us life. That’s what Mark is talking about in our Scriptures today. He is inviting us as readers to put aside what divides us and celebrates us, our saltiness, our desire to serve, our desire to enhance the lives of others, our desire to preserve justice for all of God’s people, our abilities to flavor the bland existence of others with the seasonings of the Kingdom of God: Grace, peace, love, welcoming and service.

Mark is also reminding us that as people of faith, we lose our way sometimes, that our saltiness loses its ability to season, that our desire to serve sometimes stands in the way of the work of the Kingdom of God. And we have a responsibility to get back to the basics and renew, restore our purpose as the people of God. Mark tells us that when Jesus heard that the disciples stopped a man from healing just because this man was not a part of their group, he knew that he had to go back to basics. He had to break down the Kingdom of God into its core elements and remind the disciples of how these core elements make up a community of faith. Jesus knew that he had to go back to Chemistry 101 and remind his disciples of how the different elements are supposed to interact with each other and how the different elements of faith, grace, hope, peace, love and welcoming make up the Body of Christ. He knew that he had to get them to see what unites them, not what divides them. He knew that he had to get the disciples to recognize that they had forgotten their purpose and that their “saltiness” had lost its ability to season the Kingdom of God with grace, peace, hope, love, and welcoming.

Mark reminds his community and us today that these basic elements, grace, peace, love, hope, service and welcoming flavor the Kingdom of God. They add spice to our lives as believers. They enhance our experiences as people of faith here on earth. They add flavor to our lives as disciples of Christ. Mark reminds his community and us today that we are called to share the basic elements that make up the Body of Christ with all of God’s children. We are called to pass the salt down the table and let everyone sprinkle a little grace, peace, hope, love, service and welcoming on the feast of life that God has spread out before us.

Heavenly Father, help us that we may never lose our saltiness as people of faith. Help us to remember our purpose and what unites us as people of faith.  Amen.

And for an entertaining read I recommend the following:

(and it is published by Penguin Books) go figure!!!!!