Sunday, February 13, 2011



The sisters have all the children sitting together at Sunday mass; this means that I can go and stand right in front of the kids and have a friendly sort of chat during the homily when I choose to. I had decided that I would preach to them that way at last Sunday’s mass (Feb. 6).

What do you say to little ones about being “the salt of the earth?” I had prepared the usual ideas about salt being important in the olden days not just for seasoning but also for preserving things before the days of refrigerators. I knew I’d tell them that salt is essential for our bodies if we are to stay healthy. Should I tell them that our word “salary” comes from the fact that the Roman soldiers used to get paid not in money but in salt (the Latin “sal”)? I sensed that this homily was not likely to be terribly engaging for the little ones.

As I made my may across the parking lot to the sacristy door for 8:30 mass, I started thinking that maybe I should just stay at the lectern and talk to the grownups instead. I had to watch my footing as I tip-toed over a place near the door where a melting snow bank had left a wide puddle that had then frozen into black ice.

My practical self grumbled at the slippery ice, “This is dangerous. We should put down some rock salt.”

My sermon-writing self perked up immediately: “Wait! What did you just say about salt?”

My creative self chimed in, “Yes! That’s IT! There’s your homily for the kids! 'You are the salt of the earth!' Think of the tons of rock salt we’ve been using up this winter! Why do we put down salt when there’s ice on the ground?"

By the time I reached the door to the sacristy (without falling, by the way) I had my homily outlined.


After I introduced them to the purpose of rock salt I asked the children the question, “How can you be the salt on someone’s path today?”

Maybe when someone is sad, you can cheer them up with a smile or a kind word, so that they won’t slip and fall down because of their sadness.

Or if someone is lonesome, you can be the salt on their path by being there for them.

When someone needs help, you can be the salt on their path that makes their life a little easier and keeps them from falling down and getting hurt.

It turned out to be one of those simple children's homilies that, while making sense to some of the children, really hit home with the adults in the congregation. I have this tacit understanding with the grownups in church: If I walk over and start preaching to the second-graders, you better be listening hard because I’m probably addressing myself to you more than to the children.

I hope that my homily spread a little rock salt around the icy streets of our neighborhood during the following week!
............................."YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH..."

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