For ancient people, salt was an important preservative, seasoning, and symbol of healing. What does Jesus mean by such an image?
First, he’s not saying that those who live this way are going to heaven. He is saying that they will be gift for the earth. We think of Jesus’ teaching as prescriptions for getting to heaven (even though we haven’t followed them). Instead, the Sermon on the Mount is a set of descriptions of a free life.
Jesus’ moral teaching is very often a description of the final product rather than a detailed process for getting there. When you can weep, when you can identify with the little ones, when you can make peace, when you can be persecuted and still be joyful . . . then you’re doing it right. He is saying, as it were, this is what holiness looks like. When you act this way, “The Kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:21). Jesus doesn’t seem to be concerned about control, enforcement, or uniformity.
.. If Christians—Jesus’ self-proclaimed followers—no longer believe the Gospel, if we no longer believe in nonviolence and powerlessness, then who’s going to convert us? We’re supposed to be the leaven of the world, yet if we no longer believe in the Gospel, what hope do we have of offering anything new to anyone?
.. “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better” is one of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s core principles.
We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. . . . Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. —General Omar Bradley
.. the Pax Romana creates a false peace by sacrificing others. But the peace Jesus speaks of—Pax Christi, the peace of Christ—waits and works for true peace by sacrificing the false self of power, prestige, and possessions. Such peacemaking will never be popular. The follower of Jesus is doomed to minority status.
Jesus next warns us that we will be hated from all sides (see also John 15:18-16:2 and Matthew 10:22). When you’re working outside the system, when you work for peace, you will not be admired inside the system. In fact, you will look dangerous, subversive, and unpatriotic. One thing you cannot call Jesus was a patriot. He was serving a far bigger realm.
.. If you are truly a peacemaker, your very means have to be nonviolent and you have to be consistently pro-life—from womb to tomb. One of the most distressing qualities of many Christians today is that they retain the right to decide when, where, and with whom they will be pro-life peacemakers. If the other can be determined to be wrong, guilty, unworthy, or sinful, the death penalty is somehow supposed to serve justice. That entirely misses the ethical point Jesus makes: We are never the sole arbiters of life or death, because life is created by God and carries the divine image. It is a spiritual seeing, far beyond any ideology of left or right.
.. [We are called to] speak out against every aspect of violence—poverty, war, racism, police brutality, gun violence, nuclear weapons, and environmental destruction—and at the same time call for a new culture of peace. .
War is a means of seeking control, not a means of seeking peace. Pax Romana is the world’s way of seeking control and calling it peace. In ancient times, the citizens who lived in the city of Rome thought they had peace. Violence, you see, will always create more violence. It is not real peace. As Pope Paul VI reflected, “If you want peace, work for justice.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” —Matthew 5:9
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” —Matthew 5:10
Situations of persecution (or anything else that shakes us out of our egoic comfort zone) can become great teaching tools if we have the courage to use them that way.
.. Jesus is talking about a radical transformation of consciousness, embraced through an attitude of inner receptivity; a willingness to enter the flow; a commitment to domesticate those violent animal programs within us; and above all, a passionate desire to unify the heart