05 February 2011

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading, Isaiah 58:7-10
In the Hebrew text the opening verse literally translates as, “Break bread with the hungry.” While it would be proper to interpret this Reading very literally and see in it the Christian duty of taking care of the less fortunate, it’s also necessary to go deeper, past the physical aspects and allow this Reading to speak to us spiritually and prophetically. It is our Lord Jesus Christ Who feeds the hungry with the Bread of Life. He lifted and removed our state of oppression when He allowed Himself to be lifted up on the Cross which obliterated our slavery to sin and death. We are strangers in a foreign land who are journeying to our heavenly homeland. Being naked speaks of vulnerability and conveys to us how much we depend on our Lord. The light breaking forth like the dawn is the Light of Christ Who heals our wounds of sin and suffering. Our submission to our Saviour allows His Light to shine on our darkness and the Light will always overpower the darkness; and when we do His bidding, His Power working through us becomes very evident as He speaks to our spirit proclaiming, “Here I am!”

Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
The message Saint Paul is proclaiming here is that for the spiritual person, the wisdom, power and eloquence which derives from God is far superior to that which the world esteems. In this letter, Saint Paul tries to accentuate this point by asking the Corinthians to recollect his example of total reliance on the Lord when he visited Corinth. Paul’s weakness, fear and trembling are probably a reference to his sufferings experienced in Macedonia. At the time of this writing, Saint Paul’s physical health may have also been a challenge for him. When reading Saint Paul’s letters, it’s only natural to be curious about what it must have been like to have seen this man of God in action. Truthfully, we are not deprived of this because it is not Saint Paul but God Who is seen in action through representatives like Saint Paul. Today we are fortunate to have seen God in action through individuals like Pope John Paul II, Padre Pio, Father Solanus Casey and Mother Teresa of Calcutta to name several. Have you seen God work and move in your own life?

Gospel, Saint Matthew 5:13-16
Salt is added to food as a seasoning which makes the food tastier. While your doctor might tell you to avoid excessive use of it, spiritually speaking you and I as disciples of Christ are called upon to be the moral seasoning for the world in which we live. In ancient Palestinian usage, when the salt of Christian discipleship becomes impure, then there is nothing left in the world to restore its savor. Saint John Chrysostom points out that the merits of Christ delivers us from the corruption of sin; but the care and labour of His disciples preserves us from returning to it again. The next example is light. In a world of darkness, followers of Christ are obligated to light the path which leads to the Lord. Our negligence in this is a nonuse of our gifts which is comparable to a lamp put under a bushel basket. Looking at the big picture, the Church is the light of the world built upon Christ Who is the Mountain. We are a people of God through baptism and our destiny is the Kingdom of God which has been begun by God Himself on earth and which must be further extended until it has been brought to perfection by Him at the end of time (cf. CCC 782).