5th Sunday in Ordinary time

Every morning I have a roll spread with butter and jam for my breakfast. There is nothing particularly special about this unless you take into account that most butters on the market have added salt. I found this out while having my first breakfast on Scottish soil. Salt and jam are not a tasty combination. Since then I’ve been carefully checking the level of added salt in butter before putting it into my basket. Not because of health, but because of taste. I realised the range of unsalted butter is very limited with only a few options.

That experience showed me very clearly that quite often we don’t mind how a tiny amount of something might have impact on our lives unless it’s too much or too little. Obviously we need water and it’s normal to have it in our homes. But too little of it (Northern Ireland) or too much of it (Australia) is equally disastrous. A pinch of salt can massively improve the taste of a meal, but an over salted one is inedible.

Jesus calls his followers ‘the salt of the earth’. It seems to be an uplifting comparison; but is it? In the Bible we can read about ‘the salty desert’ describing it as a dead, infertile, barren and abandoned land, cursed by God and people. For centuries salt was used to preserve meat and fish; what this meant in practice was killing all bacteria. In other words life wasn’t possible in such salty environment.

I suppose we all have heard about the cruel execution of an Afghan couple, who had been stoned to death for adultery. It understandably raised outrage because of the barbarity of the Taleban. I’m not going to justify this, because it’s not defendable. But step into their shoes: they acted according to their belief. They just implemented the Muslim moral code. Too much salt!

Some people believe in introducing Christian moral values into civil law. What’s more, they truly believe that’s perfectly justified if the majority of the nation shares those values. But this is something we are exactly afraid of in other cultures, especially Islam. When we legalise our moral choices they lose their attraction. As humans we can lose the power of making our own decisions by enshrouding them within the framework of the law. For some people Christian moral values might be similarly oppressive to them, as Sharia law seems to be from our point of view.

Our vocation as Christians is to build a better society in a somewhat invisible way. It means making right moral choices concerning ourselves and making them because of our beliefs; encouraging others to make similar choices not by pressing them, but by example. And last but not least: we have to accept that some people don’t want to share our moral values and choices; just because of their different tastes. Not everybody likes jam with salt. I really don’t.