The 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]

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The 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]
Isaiah 58:7-10  +  1 Corinthians 2:1-5  +  Matthew 5:13-16
February 9, 2020

… your light shall break forth like the dawn ….

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click HERE to hear Scott Hahn’s reflection for this Sunday (2:59)

click HERE to watch Jeff Cavins’ reflection for this Sunday (5:14)

click HERE to read the homily of Monsignor Charles Pope for this Sunday

click HERE to watch the homily of Archbishop Charles Chaput for this Sunday (12:46)

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click HERE to read Pope Francis’ 2017 Angelus address for this Sunday

click HERE to read Pope Benedict’s 2011 Angelus address for this Sunday

click HERE to read St. John Paul II’s 2001 reflection upon Matthew 5:13-14

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references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church cited for this Sunday by the Vatican’s Homiletic Directory:

CCC 992-996:   the progressive revelation of resurrection
CCC 549, 640, 646:   raisings a messianic sign prefiguring Christ’s Resurrection
CCC 2603-2604:   the prayer of Jesus before the raising of Lazarus
CCC 1002-1004:   our present experience of resurrection
CCC 1402-1405, 1524:   the Eucharist and the Resurrection
CCC 989-990:   the resurrection of the body

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“God is light”, we hear in Sacred Scripture [1 Jn 1:5].  But in today’s Gospel Reading, Jesus declares to His disciples:  “You are the light of the world.”  To help you live out this calling faithfully, and to carry out the “good deeds” that are the heart of this calling, today’s First and Second Readings prepare you for the Gospel Reading.

The First Reading, from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, is very practical.  It’s down to earth.  In Catholic terms, the prophet Isaiah is calling God’s People to carry out what are called “the corporal works of mercy”:  to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead.

All seven of these corporal works of mercy—as well as the seven spiritual works of mercy—are very practical ways to live out your Catholic Faith.  We do these works of mercy because God commands us to do so, and because we love our God and our neighbor.

But the prophet Isaiah gives a third motive for carrying out these works of mercy.  He prophesies to those who would carry them out:  “if you bestow your bread on the hungry… then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.”

The Old Testament promise was that God, who is light, would shine on those who carry out good deeds.  But the Gospel of Jesus promises something more.  The Gospel promises that those who live the Gospel become light, and that God shines through them.

Today’s Gospel Reading, along with those we’ll hear on the other Sundays before Ash Wednesday, comes from the Sermon on the Mount.  Immediately after the Beatitudes (which we did not hear last Sunday because of the feast of the Presentation of the Lord) comes today’s Gospel passage, in which Jesus calls His followers “salt” and “light”.  Jesus is calling you to be “the light of the world.”  But what does this mean in practical terms?

Jesus’ last sentence sheds light on what He means.  It’s basically a command, but it has three parts.  Jesus commands you when He declares:  “your light must shine before others, / [so] that they may see your good deeds / and [so that they may] glorify your heavenly Father.”  But why would others glorify your Father if it’s your good deeds that they see?

St. Paul in our Second Reading, in preaching to the Corinthians, offers us the skeleton key that unlocks the meaning of Jesus’ words.  St. Paul says, “I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling … so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom, but on the power of God.”  What is this “power of God”?  St. Paul answers this question for us, also.  This power is “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified”.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God Himself, destroyed the power of death by His own suffering and death.  So if this is true of Jesus, won’t it be all the more true for us today?

When God asks us to do something for Him, our reflex often is to give God all the reasons why we cannot help Him with His request.  Generally at the top of the list is our explanation to God that we “just can’t do that”.  Pastors often hear this when they ask parishioners to take up certain works of stewardship.  Christians believe that certain good works are simply not within their power.

But maybe that’s God’s point.  Maybe God wants to use a weak instrument such as yourself so that His power shines more clearly.  Maybe when you imitate Jesus Christ crucified, by allowing your weakness to be the vessel of God’s power, people will see your good deeds and glorify the Father who loves you enough to ask you to serve Him through your weakness.

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