Temptations to Sin: The Simile of Salt
An unknown author had said this: “Misdeeds (or wicked acts) are sins of commission and missed deeds are sins of omission.”
Jesus in today’s gospel warns His disciples not to give a stumbling block in the way of another, that is, not to give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin. The Greek word for temptation is scandalon which is exactly the same as the English word for scandal. The original meaning of scandal is a trap or a stumbling block which causes one to trip and fall. The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, there is a chain reaction because he in turn may teach another to commit sin until everybody has committed the sin. And the young in faith are especially vulnerable to our bad example of indifference to prayer, neglect of taking God and His laws seriously.
That is why Jesus says to His disciples: “Keep salt in yourselves,” (v. 50). Before electricity and refrigeration were invented, salt was very useful because it did not only give food flavor but it also preserved meat from spoiling or corruption so as to retain its freshness. Somebody said that Jesus uses the image of salt to describe how His disciples are to live in the world. As salt purifies, preserves and penetrates, so the disciple must be a salt in the world of human society to purify, preserve and penetrate this society with God’s Kingdom and His Kingdom values of righteousness and peace but how?
Jesus suggests the how. It is by: First, to cut off our hands and feet, and to pluck out our eyes if they cause us to commit sin (vv. 43-47). He says: “If your hand causes you to sin cut it off!” Is our hand causes us to commit sin? Our hands can give great glory to God and we are called to do that. But is this the case? Somebody had said that the hand can be folded in prayer or clinched into a fist, it can write the praise of God or it can defame our neighbor, we can press a channel on the remote that offers formation or deformation.
Actually He is not speaking literally but He wants to make it very clear that sin is a serious matter and we must take radical action to uproot it from our lives and from our systems. These sins might be bad influences of a friend or sinful relationship, drug addiction, drinking hard liquor, gambling and others. By radically cutting off these cancerous causes to sin, we are saving the Divine Life of God within us that will last forever. It is like cancer that often calls for the surgical removal of an organ or a part of the body in order to stop the spread of this deadly disease and to prolong one’s life.
Second is to do small acts of charity (v. 41). Somebody had said that it is very easy to win the reward of heaven. What we are going to do is just a simple act of charity like giving a glass of water to someone who is thirsty in the name of Christ. That is why I do believe in these words coming from a text message sent to me: “The finest part of a good person’s life is the little unknown acts of kindness and love. We obtain happiness not because we do great things but because we do small things with great love.”
Do you set a good example for others to follow, especially the young?