Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings this week at this link
Fr. Robert Barron podcast reflection for this Sunday at this link.
My own thoughts:
The “light” image has caught me this week. I haven’t done a word-count through these scriptures, but I suspect that the word “light” features more than any other word in the first reading, the psalm, and in the Gospel, and would therefore show up largest in a word cloud.
Note in the first reading written as an encouragment for those who are struggling to rebuild their lives after the Babylonian Exile (late 5th century BC) that the light will shine not if we get our ruined city rebuilt (speaking of Jerusalem, but this is also the message for our earthquaked Christchurch city), but if we:
- Share our bread with the hungry,
- shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
- clothe the naked when we see them,
- and do not turn your back on your own.
…then our “light shall break forth like the dawn”,. This reading then repeats the reminder: 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…and when we ourselves are in need and call on the Lord, then the Lord will both hear and answer us.
In the process of the Jerusalem rebuild, Isaiah shifts the people to what is central, not the bricks and mortar of the labourers, but the often unseen love of people for each other. This is the heart not only of parish life, but of all human existence. A healthy society, that may even be completely secular, will strive to feed the poor, clothe the naked, have a concern for justice and avoid oppression, false accusation and malicious speech.
So Christianity is not an add-on to human existence. Instead truly human existence is not possible without Christ!
The Light on a hilltop image in the Gospel reminded me of Monsignor Tom Liddy (Priest of diocese of Christchurch and rector of the NZ national seminary for all of my early 1980 seminary years). Tom was ordained priest in 1944 and therefore was in the seminary during the war. Many of the locals thought that the men in the seminary should have been in Europe along with many of their own sons, so they were pretty tough on the seminarians when they saw them in the street. Tom recalled hearing once an attack on the seminary: “you there, running from your duty in that place – and all lit up like the Queen Mary“ The reference was to the war-time blackout implying that the seminary was not covering windows well enough at night.
It is not easy to conceal light. This also means that it more difficult to hide light than to let it shine. Light wants to get out! And (imagine trying to darken a room during sunshine hours), light wants to get in! Resisting light is much more difficult than letting light shine. Therefore the challenge that today’s scriptures put before us is much more easier and natural that we might often think. It is more difficult to not accept the challenge than to accept it!
An invitation for this week:
Decide now that for the next week you are going to take todays scriptures literally, using them as the programme for a week-long project. Decide to “let your light shine before others” by:
- giving to the poor, the hungry, homeless in some practical way. Perhaps you know a neighbour who is struggling financially, a workmate or family member, or give to a charity.
- Remove from your life all association with false accusation and malicious speech (gossip etc)
Then, whenever you think of it during the day, and especially before you sleep at night, ask yourself: living this way, do i feel happier, more fulfilled and content….