salt of the Earth

Expression used in a similitude which is given in slightly different forms and under diverse circumstances by three Evangelists (Matthew 5; Mark 9; Luke 14). Much of the salt used in Palestine is obtained by evaporation of the Dead Sea waters, not perfectly pure and hence liable to corruption and loss of savor. Once corrupted it is fit only to be thrown out in the street or on the refuse piles within or at the edge of Eastern villages. By their vocation the Apostles and their successors are the salt of the earth, i.e., by their teaching and example they must keep men measuring up to the principles of right living laid down by Christ. In Saint Mark this parable is a rebuke for their quarrels over precedence; in Saint Matthew and Saint Luke it is a warning to remain true to their vocation by correspondence to Christ’s teaching and grace, which alone will give them the authority and spiritual force necessary to imbue others with the true spirit of Jesus.