Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 9
Let Each of Us Become That Lamp Which Burns Brightly for Others to See, That We May Truly Be All That God Is Asking Us to Be.
For many of us today, it is hard to imagine what life must have been like before the invention of the electric light bulb and the refrigerator. In the days of Christ, in the days of the prophet Isaiah, and when Paul was preaching to the faithful in the Church of Corinth, the only source for heat was a wood stove or fire; the only source of light was generally an oil lamp; and the only way that food could be preserved from spoilage was the application of salt.
To us, what would appear as hardships was for people some two thousand years ago and earlier a normal daily routine, whether it be drawing water from a well with a bucket, making sure your lamps were filled with oil so you would have a source of light in the evening, or making sure your sources of meat were packed in salt, so that you wouldn’t get sick.
Jesus used these ordinary images, such as salt and light, to convey extraordinary truths. What does salt and light have to teach us about God and his reign on Earth? Salt was a valuable commodity in the ancient world. People traded with it, like we trade with gold, silver or shares of stock.
Jesus used the image of salt to describe how His disciples are to live in the world. Just as salt purifies, preserves, and penetrates, so His disciples must be as salt in the world of human society, so as to purify, preserve, and penetrate that society with God’s Truth.
Jesus also used the image of a lamp which gives light to further his illustration. Lamps in the ancient world served a vital function, much like they do today. They enable people to see and work in the dark and to avoid stumbling.
And in the light of our Christian faith, we avoid stumbling by opening our hearts to the inspirations and guidance from the Holy Spirit. By embracing the will of God in our own lives, then, as the prophet Isaiah tells us in our First Reading –
“If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.”
It is through our “yes” to Christ that His Spirit works within each of us. It is through our “yes” as active participants in the Body of Christ that we help to bring about the Kingdom of God here on Earth.
For when we say and live our “yes’s” to God Himself, placing Him at the center of our daily lives, then we become that just man which we hear about in today’s Responsorial Psalm – “Light shines through the darkness for the upright; he is gracious and merciful and just. Well for the man who is gracious and lends, who conducts his affairs with justice.”
For it is in the justice which we live in our own daily life, it is in our righteous fear of the Lord which guides our thoughts, our words and our actions here on Earth, that the words of Isaiah truly ring true, “Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!”
In other words, it is through our loving response to all that God is asking of us that the Light of God’s grace will illumine the darkness within our own lives. It is the Light of God’s grace which will fill us with a spiritual light and a true inner joy and peace.
Living in His Truth, living in His Love brings us into a truly intimate and loving relationship with the God who has given to us the gift of life and the gift of this most wondrous faith in which we share. And Jesus used the image of a lamp to describe how each one of us is to live in the Light of His Truth and Love.
And we can make this imagery work for us in today’s secular world as well. Just as natural light illumines the darkness and enables one to see visually, so the Light of Christ shines in the hearts of believers and enables us to see the Heavenly reality of God’s Kingdom, even within our own midst.
We see it in the glorious Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; we see it in the proclamation of the Word; we see His Presence in the Holy Sacraments of His Church; we see His Presence in the hearts and souls of humble priests, ministers and rabbis who become the extension of the Living God in caring for the spiritual and physical needs of God’s children; and we see it in the assembly of faithful believers who raise their hearts and voices in both prayer and song, giving praise and glory before the Heavenly Throne of Almighty God!
What is it that our Lord said in today’s Gospel reading? “…your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
And we do this not with pride or arrogance, but we do it with humility, love and charity towards each other. We see this in the example of Paul, as he describes himself in our Second Reading. And we see this in the world which we live today through the perfect example which was shown to us in the humility and love for the poor and the underprivileged which Saint Mother Teresa lived throughout her daily life.
The suffering saw in her the loving and merciful Christ, and she saw in them the suffering Christ. She once said, “Like Jesus, we belong to the world, living not for ourselves but for others. The joy of the Lord is our strength.”
And the joy of the Lord should also be both yours and my strength in living our faith each day, amidst the daily struggles and the ups and downs which each of us face from time to time. The plight of the homeless and the anguished expressions of hunger and sickness never dimmed the flame that was burning in Mother Teresa’s heart. She became a beacon of light in the midst of so much darkness.
She was an example of what it truly means to be a light unto the world. One could see in her eyes the Light of Christ, for they were eyes filled with love for all of God’s children, especially those who were marginalized by society, especially those who were the most vulnerable.
Our Lord asks that you and I not place our faith “under a bushel basket”. Rather, our faith is to be as a lamp which burns for others to see and follow – for, in this way, as Jesus says, we “glorify [our] Heavenly Father.”
Let each of us become that lamp which burns brightly for others to see, that we may truly be all that God is asking us to be, so that we may become the salt which gives flavor and preserves for the sake of His Kingdom, and for the sake of His children and for our own salvation.
In our own walk of faith, may all our “yes’s” be our way of living God’s Love here and now!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.” (Isaiah 58:9c-10)
- “Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!” (Isaiah 58:9ab)
- “You, LORD, give light to my lamp; my God brightens the darkness about me.” (Psalm 18:29)
- “Light shines through the darkness for the upright; he is gracious and merciful and just. Well for the man who is gracious and lends, who conducts his affairs with justice.” (Psalm 112:4-5)
- “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
- “When I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.” (Micah 7:8c)
- “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13a, 14a)
- “For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:47)
- “…set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12b)
- “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16)
Prayer for the Day
“O Most Holy Trinity!
As many times as I breathe,
as many times as my heart beats,
as many times as my blood pulsates through my body,
so many thousand times do I want to glorify Your Mercy.
“I want to be completely transformed into Your Mercy
and to be Your living reflection, O Lord.
May the greatest of all Divine attributes,
that of Your unfathomable Mercy,
pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor…
“O my Jesus, transform me into Yourself,
for You can do all things.”Saint Faustina (Diary, 163)