Sunday: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Date: February 5, 2017. Year: A The readings: [Is. 58:6-10; 1 Cor. 2:1-5; Mt. 5:13-16] The message: Let your light shine before others. Prepared by: Catholic Doors Ministry Total words: 1376
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"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." [Mt. 5:16] Welcome my brothers and sisters in Christ to today's celebration of the Holy Mass. Your presence here today is a witnessing example of how your light is shining before others.
Today's First Reading from the Book of Isaiah [Is. 58:6-10] supplements the message of the Gospel Reading. Over and above being commanded to let our light shine before others, the Lord God tells us through the prophet Isaiah that our actions will determine our glory or darkness. Allow me to explain.
For some time, God had been telling His chosen people through Isaiah that He would send a Light in the world to save His people and the gentiles. "It is too light a thing that You should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give You as a Light to the nations, that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth." [Is. 49:6]
A passage from the Gospel of Lukes tells us that our Saviour Jesus, the "Light of the world," [Jn. 8:12] fulfilled the promised of the Lord. Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour." [Lk. 4:18; Is. 61:2] "Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." [Jn. 8:12]
The timing of the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy concerning the arrival of the promised Messiah depended entirely on God's blessings upon His people or the withdrawal of His grace from them. The people were asked to fast as the means through which their bonds of injustice would be broken. Through fasting, the oppressed would be freed. [Is. 58:6]
Over and above this, the people were asked to share their bread with the hungry, to bring the homeless into their homes. They were asked to cover the naked and not to hide themselves from their relatives who may need their assistance. [Is. 58:7]
Through those good works, the light of the people would break forth like the dawn. Sadness would turn to joy, their oppressors withdrawing before them. And the glory of the Lord would be their rear guard, protecting them from unexpected hardships. [Is. 58:8]
After having performed all these good works of righteousness, when the people shall call upon the Lord, He will answer them, "Here I am." But first, they must get rid of the evil around them, the pointing of the finger, the gossiping, the false accusations, the speaking of evil, all what displeases God. [Is. 58:9]
When they share their food with the hungry and deliver justice to those who are afflicted, then their light shall rise in the darkness and their gloom will be like the noonday. [Is. 58:10] Darkness shall become light. Where there was despair, there will be hope. Where there was death, there shall be life. Where there was sorrow, there shall be joy.
While preparing my homily, I read in a book that "fasting should unite the rich and the poor so that all can taste the dust of which each was made." [Gen. 3:19] How can such be? How can the poor fast if they have nothing to eat? The call to fast is not a call to the poor, but rather a call to the rich. By fasting, the rich come to share in the poverty and suffering of the poor who go hungry.
By true fasting, by enduring long-term hunger, the rich come to the realization that there is something greater in life than worldly fame, pleasures and wealth. By co-sharing in the suffering of the poor, they come to the realization that there is a greater purpose in life, a spiritual purpose. They come to the realization that hunger and suffering are temporary; joy and peace are eternal, these being the fulfillment of the promise of the eternal Lord.
Reviewing the Second Reading, [1 Cor. 2:1-5] when St. Paul went to preach to the Corinthians, it was to proclaim to them the mystery of Jesus Christ, He being crucified. [1 Cor. 2:2] Nothing else was on his mind. There was no intent to use lofty words or wisdom to deceive the Corinthians. Arrogance and procrastination was not part of his purpose.
When Paul was in Corinth for over a year and a half, [Acts 18:11] he went in weakness and in fear with much trembling. [1 Cor. 2:3] It was not easy. He was opposed and reviled. [Acts 18:5] He was brought before the tribunal, accused of influencing the people to worship a God contrary to the law. [Acts 18:13] In his love for the Lord Jesus, He endured much.
Whatever was accomplished through him as a light in the world, it was not because of his own doing. His speech and his proclamation were not plausible words of wisdom. They were a demonstration of the Spirit and of power so that the faith of the believers may not rest on human wisdom, but on the power of God. [1 Cor. 2:4-5] Paul was the instrument of God through which the Holy Spirit produced good works. Without the power of the Spirit, there would have been no goods works. Without the protection of the Spirit, St. Paul would not have lasted as long as he did in Corinth. Through his obedience, his servitude and his humility, he was a worthy instrument of the Lord.
Consequently, some believed. That faith did not come from Paul. The faith of the Corinthians rested entirely on the power of God, not on human wisdom. It is the same with our faith. Our faith does not come from the priest. It does not come from our parents or the school teachers. Nor does it come from our spouse or peers.
The gift of our faith rests entirely on the power of God that was manifested because of His love for each and everyone of us. "We love Him, because He first loved us." [1 Jn. 4:19]
Today's Gospel Reading [Mt. 5:13-16] tells us that we are the salt of the earth. If salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. [Mt. 5:13] In other words, when we stop doing good works, our souls are worthless to God. We are no longer worthy of being called the brother or friend of Jesus. We are no longer worthy of being called a son or daughter of God. We are no longer worthy of the eternal inheritance that awaits all those who persevere in their living faith.
Using a second example, Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." [Mt. 5:14- 6]
In life, we have two choices. In the likeness of Christ, we can shine as a light in the world or we could be rejected by God for failing to realize the ideal of the life of the Gospels. We cannot have both. We cannot serve two masters. We cannot gain the world and Heaven. The outcome of our eternal blessings entirely depends on the choice we make today, not tomorrow, because we might not be here tomorrow. No one knows when they will be called to appear before the Lord.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, when we received our Sacrament of Confirmation, our Bishop sent us forward to preach and defend the Gospel. Our calling obligates us to be lights in the world in the likeness of Christ Who is the Source of all lights. This week, let us take the opportunity to evaluate to what extent we are answering our calling, remembering the Sacred Words of Jesus, "Let your light shine before others." [Mt. 5:16]
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[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]
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"Thus says the Lord:
'Is this not the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, 'Here I am.'
"If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.'" [Is. 58:6-10]
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"When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God." [1 Cor. 2:1-5]
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"Jesus went up the mountain and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to teach them: 'You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.'" [Mt. 5:13-16]
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