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Salt of the Earth People

One of the highest compliments that can be paid in Australia, and especially rural Australia, is that someone is a “salt of the earth” sort of person. Usually that means they are genuine, unpretentious, kind, helpful and often refers to an earthy sense of humour. The saying, which is common, comes from our gospel reading this week although many who use the saying would not necessarily realise it comes from the Bible. “You are the salt of the earth...” (Matthew 5:13-20; Fifth Sunday after Epiphany)

In a part of the world where rising salt levels has caused such damage to our earth it is hard to think of salt as blessing, indeed as essential to a good life. But in Jesus’ time and tradition it was. Salt was essential in the preserving of foods, it was used to purify water, new-borns were rubbed with salt to remedy many ills, it was added to incense and many other uses both sacred and domestic and commercial.

“You are salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world ... a city built on a hill ... a lamp on a