Proper 21 – Year B

Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22; Psalm 124; (or Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29; Psalm 19:7-14); James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-50

“No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his body – to risk his well-being – to risk his life – in a great cause.”  – Theodore Roosevelt

                We Christians are sometimes so boring, lacking enthusiasm.  And there is no one more tiresome than those of us who are negative on life, always reproachful of others out of some misguided religious principle, and consistently seeing the downside of life.  But Jesus wants us to be salty (Mark 9:50).  Salt often gets a bum rap.  Doctors tell us to cut out the salt if we have high blood pressure.  If someone is not credible we are told to take them with a grain of salt.  On the other hand we admire those who are worth their salt.  Some of the definitions of the word in Webster are: engagingly provocative, piquant, earthy or experienced.  Salty people are real characters.  Using the images from Jesus in today’s Gospel, these characters may go around (metaphorically speaking) with a missing hand, foot or eye.  But, oh, how engaging, how charmingly winning in a quirky sort of way they are.  Can we be so unconventional?  Then others may perhaps not find us so winning when we do not strut along draped in our culture’s prejudices.  They will ask questions:  What kind of a person dines with outcasts?  Answer: Jesus and salty people.  Who would not think war is a good solution to problems of national security?  Answer:  Jesus and salty people.  Who would give their life for others?  Answer: Jesus and salty people.  Who would have a preference for the poor?  Answer:  Jesus and salty people.  If we live this way we may not win over some folks.  But on the whole we will be provocative in a way that will make people stop short in their tracks and take notice.  They will notice that when one cries the other tastes salt.  That will speak to their deepest hungers.  We will not be boring.  We will be the salt of the world.

Greek

                Mark 9:43, 45, and 47 says that it would be better to go through life without a hand, foot or eye rather than having two of each and go into “hell.”  The word here translated is “gehenna.”   Gehenna was the name of the Jerusalem city dump.  In this dump the fires burned constantly around the clock.  Jesus is not speaking of the afterlife, hell as punishment after death.  He is saying: don’t let our lives be like trash, worthy of the fires of the city dump.  The New American Bible (Catholic) does not translate the word, but simply leaves it as “gehenna” as a proper name.

Haiku

Dull to the taste buds

no more since we follow Christ.

Spicy for the world.

               

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