5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Thus says the Lord: Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, clothe the man you see to be naked and do not turn from your own kin. Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over. Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you. Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’ If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked word, if you give your bread to the hungry, and relief to the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadows become like noon.
Psalm 111(112):4-9 The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
When I came to you, brothers, it was not with any show of oratory or philosophy, but simply to tell you what God had guaranteed. During my stay with you, the only knowledge I claimed to have was about Jesus, and only about him as the crucified Christ. Far from relying on any power of my own, I came among you in great ‘fear and trembling’ and in my speeches and the sermons that I gave, there were none of the arguments that belong to philosophy, only a demonstration of the power of the Spirit. And I did this so that your faith should not depend on human philosophy but on the power of God.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men. ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lampstand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’
I live in Italy where three years ago the COVID virus was discovered for the first time outside of China. In the north of the country many, many, thousands died of the disease. In Rome, we heard that one of the first symptoms of the virus was loss of taste and that if we experienced this loss of taste, we should consult a medical professional. Loss of taste was a sign that something was wrong, and you were at risk or infected. Perhaps Jesus is saying that when we lose the taste for the flavour of life something is wrong and something in us needs healing. The text from Isaiah reiterates the same, “Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, clothe the man you see to be naked and do not turn from your own kin. Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over.”
I think what is also very important, is to understand that the Gospel story of salt and light are wonderful expressions of God’s affirmation of all that is good in us. The text rejoices in saying you are salt of the earth. You are light of the world. It doesn’t say you could be, or you should try harder. It says, you are!
Of course, there are moments when we lose our ability to flavour the world with our goodness, and, of course there are moments when in self-doubt, disillusionment, or disappointment and we forget that we are light, and our light is dimmed and hidden. But this does not take away the essential reality that when we were created, as Genesis Chapter 2 reminds us, God looked upon his creation and saw that it was very good.
Inherently you are salt for the earth and light for the world.
Not just some of us, but all of us. The world is not served by you hiding your light or pretending to be unworthy of God’s goodness shining through you. Rather the world is enriched, and we ultimately serve our true purpose by radiating the light of God that gives goodness and guidance to others. Through our gifts, skills, talents, and abilities we are able to bring so much flavour to life.
For those among you who are musicians and composers, artists, architects, writers and poets, educationalists, humourists or comedians, singers, dancers, bakers, crafts men and women, an artisans of all kinds, you bring so much flavour to life and enrich the taste of the everyday, giving it meaning and purpose, you lighten the load and make life easy to bear. We thank you for the music, the laughter, the joy, peace and hope you bring.
We responded to the Psalm with the words, “The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.” This refrain strengthens the words of Isaiah, “if you give your bread to the hungry, and relief to the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadows become like noon.” Your goodness builds the goodness of the world. Like an account that becomes financially healthy when we invest wisely in it, so too our spiritual capital increases when we act as agents of goodness.
With that in mind how important it is for parents and carers to encourage, build, and strengthen all that is good in our children and young people. Too often we see the failures, or weakness, or deficiencies, which are there rather than affirming their goodness, their richness, the salt, and the light, which is so much a part of their precious innocence. It is so sad to see a child in whose eyes the lights have gone out. Let us not forget to daily affirm and encourage them, to thank them when they bring a sparkle to our eyes, a smile to our mouths, a laugh to our bellies. God sees that they are worthy salt and light and rejoices in them.
In 1 Corinthians Paul reminds us that the taste we bring and the light that shines through us, is not the result of any human philosophy, but the action of the Holy Spirit at work within us. The fruit of such inspiration is picked up in the words of Isaiah, “your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you. Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’ If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked word”, God sees, celebrates, and rejoices in us.
So let your salt be tasted and your light shine forth, for the glory of our God shines through you. God thinks you are really cool!”