All the Flavor.

GW-2020-02-09-Meta-ImageMeta Image.jpg

About 5 years ago, my dad and I tried to make our own, from scratch, Italian sausage. We found a recipe in an older cookbook that we thought sounded authentic. We ground up the pork shoulders. We prepared the casings. We added various spices and finally the kosher salt.

While we were adding it, I remember thinking, “This seems like a generous helping of salt, but I’m sure the author of this recipe has more experience and expertise than I do.” But something went wrong. 

After filling the sausages, we fried up a little of the bulk sausage meat just to taste it. WOW SALTY. No one could eat the sausages. We tried cooking them in tomato sauce, but even then we found our family suffering through dinner. This salt was salty and our sausage experiment was a failure. Bummer. 

In the gospel this Sunday, Jesus tells us that if salt loses its flavor it should be thrown out. The thing is, salt can’t loose it’s flavor. Salt is salt. So what is Jesus talking about?

We, in the 21st century, have refined, pure salt in our spice drawer at home. But imagine a time when one bought salt from a neighbor who only sifted it enough to get the large chunks of dirt or rock out of the salt. As one used the container of salt and get near the bottom, one probably got to the point where one had less salt and more dirt. Thus it no longer was salt.

Salt seasons and salt preserves. Salt does particular things. If you tried to use something less than salt to do either of these we are going to end up with dirty or spoiled food. What we need in cooking and food preparation is authentic salt. We need the real deal.

When it comes to sharing our faith, we need to have the real and authentic faith. Can we have questions and moments of weakness? Absolutely, that is part of growing in faith. But when it comes to sharing our faith, we can only share what we actually own. When it comes to inspiring and preserving faith in our family and our friends, we can only do so to the extent that we hold true faith. 

You and I can fake it till we make in terms of our own faith life and devotion (and sometimes we must!), but we can’t fake it for anyone else. We can’t share what we don’t have. We can’t lead where we won’t go ourselves. If we desire or feel called to help influence the faith of our children, spouses, neighbors, coworkers, or friends, then the first person we must help grow in faith is us. We must get salty, if we are going to season the world. 

LIVE IT: For the next 3 meals add this following prayer to your food blessing. If you make these meals, saying the prayer when you season the food. If you are picking up food, say it during the blessing.

“God, Give me the true and authentic faith you desire for me. Help me to be salt for those around me.”

Sunday Readings for February 9th, 2020. 

What’s your slogan?

March 11th, Sunday Readings.

Billboard

 

When I was kid, I was a  Boy Scout. This was back in the day with the full on uniforms,
the high socks, the pocket knifes, and strict commitment to building a bigger fire than the troup next door. We had a number of dads who were leaders (my father being our Scout Master). One of our leaders was the king of the dad joke and his favorite was a simple question and answer that always elicited an eye roll or a confused look.

Dad: Hey scout, do you know why I can’t wait for tomorrow?

Scout: Why, sir?

Dad: Because I get better looking every day. Bwwaahhahahahh. 

He told this joke so often that it kind of became his personal slogan. It because what he was known for. In some small ways, it even formed how he lived, he was a joyful and eternally optimistic person. Even though he joked about looking forward to tomorrow, he really did look forward to each new day.

Do you have a slogan? Do you have a statement or phrase that helps both explain who you are and, as the same time, form your decision making? We might think of a slogan as shallow marketing, but what if we really lived by them?

If Christianity had a slogan, John 3:16, which is our gospel this Sunday, might just be it. At the core of our faith is Jesus Christ. The central story of our faith is that God loves us so much that sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to die for us so that death is conquered and we can live forever with God.

This basic story of our faith has a greek name – Kerygma. Pope Francis says this about the Kerygma:

We must not think that in catechesis the kerygma gives way to a supposedly more “solid” formation. Nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation…It is the message capable of responding to the desire for the infinite which abides in every human heart. – Joy of the Gospel 165

What would change if this was your slogan? What if the central message of Christianity what you lived your life by? What if every decision, actions, even thought was made in light of Jesus on the cross?

LIVE IT:
Write a slogan for yourself! Write a simple, short slogan that explains who you are and helps you form how you live your life. Try it out for a week and revisit it. Edit as needed.

Enough.

Oct. 2nd Sunday Readings

I’ve run out of gas three times in my driving life. Honestly, it’s a little embarrassing. empty_gaugeWho runs out of gas multiple times? My first couple cars had “dummy” lights that turned on when I was getting close to empty, but my GMC pickup truck didn’t. Often I would try and push my truck’s range and three times, I went too far.

I don’t know if you’ve ever run out of gas, but fixing the situation can be complicated. Each time, I was too far away for my wife or a friend to come get me. Yes, I was that guy on the side of the highway who had to buy a $23, one gallon gas can in order to put enough gas in my truck to drive it back to the gas station and fill it up. I now have the most expensive collection of one gallon gas cans of anyone I know.

The gospel this week is about having “enough” faith. The disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith. They want more faith, which doesn’t seem like a bad thing. Jesus responds by saying that if they even had a speck of faith (as small as a mustard seed), they could do completely radical, miraculous things (tell a tree to move and be planted in the ocean). So this part of the gospel says that even a micro-speck of faith is enough to do miracles. Cool.

On the other hand Jesus tells the story of the servant who does what is expected and doesn’t receive any praise for it. Jesus seems to be saying that we shouldn’t be too proud of our faith lives because doing what is expected isn’t particularly exceptional.

So, how much faith is enough?

When I was out of gas on the side of interstate 94, one gallon was enough to get my car started (yay!), but it wasn’t enough to really go anywhere (sad face). When you go to the gas station do you just pump in one gallon or do you fill up your tank? We fill it up all the way, right?

Same needs to be true about our faith as well. We don’t just go to God to get one gallon of faith. Sure, that would be enough to move a mountain or command a tree to move or maybe make us feel good, but it isn’t more than the bare minimum. We aren’t filled up with just a gallon, our capacity to receive God’s love is greater.

How much faith is enough? A very little is a lot and we can never have enough.

God is infinite, and thus his capacity to love is infinite. God is always ready, willing, and able to love us more. The fact is, we are limited in how much we can receive. The good news is that we can increase our capacity. How? By going back to Jesus, again and again to be filled to over flowing with his love and mercy. Then, and only by God’s grace, can we continuously grow our ability to receive God’s love.

May you and I seek to be completely filled with God’s love and never settle for just enough.

LIVE IT:
Grow your capacity to receive God’s love this week. Whatever you “normally” do for prayer in a day, add 2 minutes of silence. If you don’t normally pray, start with 2 minutes of silence. If you have a robust prayer practice, add two minutes of silence at the end.