Gospel Reflection: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute

 

FEBRUARY 5, 2017

THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

ALLELUIA

I am the light of the world, says the Lord;

whoever follows me will have the light of life.

ALLELUIA

 

A READING FROM THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST.  MATTHEW 5: 13-16

Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earthBut if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?  It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world.  A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Nor, do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.  Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD

 

REFLECTION

Like last week, this Sunday’s Sacred Liturgy begins with a proclamation from a prophet, the great Prophet Isaiah:

Thus, says the Lord, share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn ….

The Prophet’s words identify the expectations of God for his disciples of every age. God expects that we share our bread with the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, and clothe the naked.  God expects those virtues from us because God has first fed us with the nourishment of His Word and Eucharist.  God has sheltered us by inviting us into the Body of Christ, his Church.  Moreover, God has clothed us with the dignity of being His adopted daughters and sons.  Therefore, the Good Lord asks of us nothing more than He has already provided for us!

This section of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah is a continuation of the prophet’s teaching on how our self-mortifications, especially fasting is a vital means of transforming us into a holy image of God who acts on God’s behalf. Isaiah says that a true disciple deprives himself so that he/she can provide bread, shelter and clothing for the poor and neglected.   The hunger that one induces through fasting allows one to encounter the presence of God that is within him.  Fasting creates an internal void so that God can fill us up with Himself.  The God, who abides within us through Baptism is a God of tremendous generosity and mercy.  In other words, God gives us Himself so that we can give God’s goodness to others through our actions.

The life of God experienced in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving enables and motivates the disciple to reach out to others.  When one embraces this way of living, then your light shall break forth like the dawn ….

It is this enlightened life and behavior of true disciples that Jesus accents in this morning’s Gospel.  With no ambiguity, Jesus says: You are the salt of the earth …. You are the light of the world.  Christ’s words capture our attention because they are direct and uncompromising.  Jesus does not say that we are like salt or light; Jesus says we are salt and light!

Salt has been an integral part of human history dating back to 6000 BC.  In the time of Jesus, salt was a valuable product.  Salt seasons food; it adds flavor and zest.  It is also a preservative.  One can conclude that Jesus is saying to his disciples: preserve the Word of God within them, and in turn, proclaim the Gospel with enthusiasm and zest!  In addition, since salt makes one thirsty, we can also conclude that one should thirst for the Word of God, and in turn satisfy the thirst of others with your faith.

From a biblical perspective, Salt was also associated with holiness.  In the Book of Leviticus, one of the first five books of the Bible that comprise the Torah, God instructs His people in this way: Season all your grain offerings with salt.  Do not leave the Salt of the Covenant of your God out of your grain offerings, add salt to all your offerings (Leviticus 2:13).  Because salt was precious and costly, adding salt to ritual offerings was indeed a sacrifice.

There is also a natural connection between salt and light.  Even a little salt and a little light is noticed and can have an effect on the human environment.   Both salt and light are beneficial, and stimulating.   Light brings out of darkness that which would remain hidden from sight.  Salt helps us notice that which would remain bland and tasteless without salt.  Indeed, one who is designated and re-created as the light and salt of God is significant.  Disciples who are enlightened and salted by Christ become significant instruments of salvation in the hand of God.  God commissions us, like our master to bring the light & life of the Gospel to others.  We are sent like our master into the world to favor life with its true meaning of love for God and neighbor.

Let me quote an appropriate hymn: We are the light of the world; may out light shine before all, that they may see the good that we do, and give glory to God.

AMEN.

Encountering the Divine Physician, Jesus Christ (St. Luke 5: 17-26) Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our website for details: MalvernRetreat.com

 

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