Salt and Fire

Everyone will be salted with fire.

Not being fundamentalists, we freely acknowledge that the text–not to mention the versification–of the Mark 9:40’s has inconsistencies among the various manuscripts and translations.

Does Mark 9:49 read: “Everyone will be salted with fire?” Or does Mark 9:48 read, “For everyone shall be salted with fire, and every victim shall be salted with salt?”


But I think we can say without doubt that the moral of the story is: No one can understand the Bible without grasping one salient and salty fact.

book clubUntil the coming of Christ, God took pleasure in the sweet smelling aroma of fresh flesh meat burning on the altar which stood at the very place where Abraham had been willing to sacrifice Isaac, until the angel staid his hand.

The People of God pleased Him by offering pure, non-putrefied offerings in their holy Temple.

What is the Bible? It is books written by God, using the human authorship of men who smelled the sweet smoke rising from Mt. Zion and rejoiced.

Now, of course, we also know that some of the Bible was written during periods when the Temple lay in ruins. And God also spoke through his prophets to condemn the offering of sacrifices by people with impure, selfish hearts.

Leviticus 2:13 commands us to season our sacrifices with salt. In all your oblations, offer salt. Do not remove the salt of the Covenant from thy sacrifices.

Earlier in the chapter, the Law commands that the priest must burn the sacrifice as a sweet-smelling oblation to the Lord.

What does it mean?

Easy. Sweet-smelling smoke must ascend to the one true God. No ifs ands or buts.

But, as we read, He takes no pleasures in rams or bullocks. And the priests of the Old Covenant entered the sanctuary over and over again, with what became a rather absurd gravitas, without ever really accomplishing anything.

Christ our Priest pleases the Father. Christ the Victim; Christ the altar; Christ the Temple. Christ: Head and members. Christ the celebrant of the Holy Mass, which demands our whole and entire selves be laid on the altar with the bread and wine.

May His Gospel be the salt that makes the sacrifice of our entire lives into sweet-smelling smoke for God.

And, lest the salt grow insipid and useless: may we have frequent recourse to Confession!