The salt loses its taste (Lk 14:34-14:34)

“Salt is good.

But if salt

Has lost its taste,

How can its saltiness

Be restored?”

 

Καλὸν οὖν τὸ ἅλας· ἐὰν δὲ καὶ τὸ ἅλας μωρανθῇ, ἐν τίνι ἀρτυθήσεται;

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that salt was good (Καλὸν οὖν τὸ ἅλας).  But if the salt has lost its taste (ἐὰν δὲ καὶ τὸ ἅλας μωρανθῇ), how can its saltiness be restored or re-seasoned (ἐν τίνι ἀρτυθήσεται)?  This saying of Jesus can be found in Mark, chapter 9:50, and Matthew, chapter 5:13.  Salt was important not just as a spice and preservative, but it represented wisdom and purity in the ancient world and Judaism.  Matthew had Jesus turn to his disciples to remind them that they were the salt of the earth or the land (Ὑμεῖς ἐστε τὸ ἅλας τῆς γῆς).  The other two gospel writers just had statements about salt, rather than speaking explicitly to the disciples.  Matthew switched to the 3rd person from the 2nd person, when he explained about salt losing its taste (ἐὰν δὲ τὸ ἅλας μωρανθῇ).  How can that taste be restored to the salt (ἐν τίνι ἁλισθήσεται)?  Mark indicated that Jesus said that salt was good (καλὸν τὸ ἅλας).  However, if the salt has lost its taste or saltiness (ἐὰν δὲ τὸ ἅλας ἄναλον γένηται), if it is insipid, how can the taste be restored to the salt (ἐν τίνι αὐτὸ ἀρτύσετε)?  How can you season the salt?

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The fig tree (Mk 11:13-11:13)

“Seeing

In the distance,

A fig tree in leaf,

Jesus went to see

Whether perhaps

He could find

Anything on it.

When he came to it,

He found nothing

But leaves.

It was not the season

For figs.”

 

καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν ἔχουσαν φύλλα ἦλθεν εἰ ἄρα τι εὑρήσει ἐν αὐτῇ, καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐπ’ αὐτὴν οὐδὲν εὗρεν εἰ μὴ φύλλα· ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ἦν σύκων.

 

This story about Jesus seeing the fig tree can be found in Matthew, chapter 21:19.  Luke, chapter 13:6-9, also has a parable about a fig tree that would not bear fruit.  The stories in Matthew and Mark are slightly different.  Mark said that Jesus saw a fig tree from a distance (καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν), not by the side of the road, as in Matthew.  This fig tree had leafy branches (ἔχουσαν φύλλα).  Jesus went to see if he could find any fruit on it (ἦλθεν εἰ ἄρα τι εὑρήσει ἐν αὐτῇ).  When he came over to the tree (καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐπ’ αὐτὴν), he found no fruit (οὐδὲν εὗρεν), only leaves (εἰ μὴ φύλλα), the same as Matthew had indicated.  However, here Mark pointed out that it was not the season for figs (ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ἦν σύκων).

 

Salt is good (Mk 9:50-9:50

“Salt is good.

But if salt

Has lost

Its saltiness,

How can you

Season it?

Have salt

In yourselves.

Be at peace

With one another!”

 

καλὸν τὸ ἅλας· ἐὰν δὲ τὸ ἅλας ἄναλον γένηται, ἐν τίνι αὐτὸ ἀρτύσετε; ἔχετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἅλα καὶ εἰρηνεύετε ἐν ἀλλήλοις.

 

This saying of Jesus can be found in Matthew, chapter 5:13, and Luke, chapter 14:34.  Salt was important not just as a spice and preservative but it represented wisdom and purity in the ancient world and Judaism.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that salt was good (καλὸν τὸ ἅλας).  However, if the salt has lost its taste or saltiness (ἐὰν δὲ τὸ ἅλας ἄναλον γένηται), if it is insipid, how can the taste be restored to the salt (ἐν τίνι αὐτὸ ἀρτύσετε)?  How can you season the salt?  Jesus then turned to his followers.  He told them that they should have salt within themselves (ἔχετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἅλα), not exactly salt of the earth but close enough.  They should be at peace with one another (καὶ εἰρηνεύετε ἐν ἀλλήλοις).  There was no indication here about throwing salt away because it had become useless as in Matthew and Luke.  Salt would bring about brotherly peace or love.

The right time (Eccl 3:1-3:8)

“For everything there is a season.

There is a time

For every matter under heaven.

A time to be born.

A time to die.

A time to plant.

A time to pluck up what is planted.

A time to kill.

A time to heal.

A time to break down.

A time to build up.

A time to weep.

A time to laugh.

A time to mourn.

A time to dance.

A time to throw away stones.

A time to gather stones together.

A time to embrace.

A time to refrain from embracing.

A time to seek.

A time to lose.

A time to keep.

A time to throw away.

A time to tear.

A time to sew.

A time to keep silence.

A time to speak.

A time to love.

A time to hate.

A time for war.

A time for peace.”

This is the famous poem about a correct time for everything. Sometimes it is read at funerals. There also was the 1950s and 1960s Pete Seeger popular song Turn, Turn, Turn that took its lyrics from this poem. God decides the time. We do not. There is a time and place for all the dichotomies of life, birth and death, planting and harvesting, killing and healing, breaking down and building up, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, throwing away and gathering stones, embracing and not embracing, seeking and losing, keeping and throwing away, tearing and sowing, keeping silent and speaking, loving and hating, making war and making peace. Everything under heaven has its place and season.

Yahweh controls the world (Ps 104:27-104:30)

“These all look to you.

You give them their food in due season.

When you give it to them,

They gather it up.

When you open your hand,

They are filled with good things.

When you hide your face,

They are dismayed.

When you take away their breath,

They die.

They return to their dust.

When you send forth your Spirit,

They are created.

You renew the face of the earth.”

Everything depends on Yahweh. In a series of “when” sentences, this psalmist reinforces the power of Yahweh. All food comes from Yahweh in due season. They are filled with good things when Yahweh opens his hand. When he hides his face, they are dismayed. Of course, Yahweh controls their breath. When he takes it away, they die and return to dust. Then the often repeated phrase, “Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created” ends this section. The Spirit of God is the source of all life. Yahweh alone renews the face of the earth.