Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 5, 2017

Isaiah 58 : 7 - 10
1 Corinthians 2 : 1 - 5

Matthew 5 : 13 - 16

 

Chatting With the Light of the World
 

-- “Light of the world,” Jesus?

-- That’s what I said.

-- And salt of the earth?

-- You heard me.

-- Yeah, I did, but I think I heard somewhere that YOU were “The Light of the World.” Like in all capital letters.

-- Also true.

-- So, what’s the story?

-- Did you read the first reading for today’s mass?

-- Kind of.

-- Did you see how the Prophet Isaiah laid out a whole program for Israel on behalf of the LORD?

-- Well, uh – ok, busted! I wasn’t paying a lot of attention, I admit it.

-- Uh huh. Well, if you had, you’d have seen pretty quick what I mean when I say, “YOU are the light of the world, the salt of the earth.”

-- How’s that?

-- OK, let’s just take a look. So Isaiah says to Israel:

“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.

And he makes a promise to them. If they do all that, then their “light shall break forth like the dawn.”

-- So? What’s the connection between ancient Israel’s behavior and me being the “light of the world”?

-- Wait a minute – read a little further down. He also says:

. . .and your wound shall quickly be healed;

your vindication shall go before you,

and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

-- That’s nice, but I’m still waiting to understand the connection between all that and me.

-- Really? What about if we look at the second half of that passage? See here, where he says:

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,

you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

“Here I am!” The Lord says, “I am with you.” Who does that make you think of?

-- Jesus, remember when I kind of failed catechism class? Maybe you better keep talking.

-- All right, here’s a little more from Isaiah:

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.

Now do you get it?

-- No, Jesus, I don’t get it. Just tell me in plain English how I can possibly be the light of the world…and also what the connection is between me and all of what Isaiah preached to ancient Israel.

-- Hmmm. You know, I used to have the same problem with Peter and the others back in the day. All right, ready? Here goes: the connection is – me. Jesus the Christ. When I say that you are the light of the world, I mean that as a member of my Body, you share in my vocation as Emmanuel, you know, “God with us.” I mean that you’re called to give light to the world. That’s L-I-G-H-T in plain English.

-- Are you being sarcastic? What are you saying?

-- Not sarcastic, just straightforward. Look, you’re baptized, right?

-- Right.

-- That makes you part of the Body of Christ -- my Body. That’s not just a metaphor; it’s a reality. As part of me, you’re called to be doing the same things that Isaiah spoke of to Israel, things that I did during my public ministry. Those actions are part of who and what I am. Light happens when they are done, whether by me during my life as a preacher and healer in the first century or by you, in your life as one of my members in the 21st century. As Isaiah said, long ago: Light rises in the gloom – of which, I might add, there’s still too much in the world. Get it now?

-- OMG, Jesus, now I’m afraid to ask you about “salt of the earth”!

-- LOL!

-- No, seriously, I do get it. I’m part of you, called to take part in you and with you during this life of mine. I’m not off the hook just because I can say “Jesus is the Light of the World.” If anything, that fact reinforces my call to be light myself. You’re right about too much gloom, too: there’s a lot of darkness out there. Listening to Isaiah – and you too, of course – shows me how to be light. And I’ve got to be light in order to give light.

-- Hey, I’m impressed -- now you’re quoting my friend Marie Eugénie! Looks like you’ve got the makings of a disciple after all.

-- Yeah, just like Peter and the guys: a little slow on the uptake, but once I get it, I got it. Thanks, Jesus.

 

—Sr. Nuala Cotter, RA
Provincial, US Province