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Dad said, “Let’s go fishing.” I said, “It’s January, the middle of winter! Sounds like a good idea.” We went to the Salmon River. When we arrived, we were met with a severe snowstorm. It was blowing sideways and I had so many layers of clothing on, I looked like the Michelin tire man. For obvious reasons, we were the only ones on the river. We parked and walked to the river where my father said he caught some fish a few years earlier. We fished all morning—nothing, not even a nibble. We were about to call it quits when in the heavy snow we saw someone walking toward us. When he reached us he asked us, “Any luck?” We said, “No, not a hit.” He said, “Funny, I’ve fished this pool the last few days and I didn’t do anything either. I think the fish left this pool and headed up to the next pool. Now, if you go past the bend in the river, just beyond the rapids is a pool. You should do well there.” He told us what to use and how and some details about the speed of the retrieve. After he wished us luck, he left. I said to my father, “I know we are crazy for being here with this weather, but what is he doing here?” He said, “He is a guide. He has to be here so he knows where the fish are and what they are feeding so he can get his clients into fish.” I said, “If he gave us free advice, we better take it.” We went to the hole and fished the rest of the day. That night we found a restaurant, ordered and raised our glasses. Dad said, “To a great day of fishing.” I said, “Boy am I glad we bumped into that guy. To think we were just about ready to quit.” When I think about it, the guy just told us where the fish were. And yet he made such a big difference. That is what it is to be the salt of the earth. Just a little makes a big difference.
One night I walked into the TV room and some of the guys were watching a cooking competition on the food network. There was a guy that really wanted to win. He was running from one end of the kitchen to the other grabbing ingredients and adding more and more. The competitor was stirring a pot and yawning. But this guy had food inside the stove cooking; four skillets were going at the same time on the stovetop. He was throwing all kinds of stuff in the blender for his sauce. He plated and his steak that had perfect grill marks, creamy mashed potatoes and a rich looking sauce. Surely, this guy is going to win. He lost. He forgot to put salt on the food. The judges asked him. “Did you forget to season?” He put his head down and said, “Yes.” He forgot to use salt? Are you kidding? Salt is the cheapest thing in the kitchen. It is the easiest thing to do. You just pinch or shake. When Christ says that we are the salt of the earth, it is a little insulting don’t you think? Can’t I be a lobster tail or a la mode? Maybe a hot chili pepper? Yes, salt doesn’t cost us that much and it is the easiest thing to use when we cook, but without it, everything is bland. What we do as Christians does not cost us much, and what we do is not difficult, but without us living Christ’s life, the world is bland.
One time I went to an all-day worship. I told my mother that I would not be able to see her that day. When it was noon, they told us that we had a two-hour break before for lunch. I thought I would have enough time to visit mom after all. I stopped on the way to get her an ice cream shake before I got to the nursing home. When I arrived, mom was alone in her room sitting in her wheelchair slouched over. I tapped her on the shoulder and she looked up and saw me with a goofy smile holding her mocha frappé. She was so surprised to see me. She said, “I thought you had a workshop today. I said, “I do, but I am on a break.” She was so happy and surprised to see me that tears welled up in her eyes and then the water works. I said, “Mom, it’s just me,” She said, “You told me you couldn’t come today, but I was still hoping.” That is salt. What we do as Christians does not cost us much, and it is easy to do but without us, the world is bland. No, we are just salt, but remember: we are the best thing that ever happened to the world. Here is the litmus test. When we are salt, people will say: “Boy am I glad I ran into her. I am glad I ran into him.”Back to All Homilies