(From the Bulletin of Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church, February 5, 2017)
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time A
One of the attractive features of our Catholic Church is its rituals - the Mass with its vestments, candles, gestures, incense, music. We also have special practices like fasting, ashes on the forehead, and all kinds of novenas prayer meetings and Holy Hours. There are so many external practices that people who are not particularly religious sometimes notice and are often impressed with them. Sometimes, though, we might wonder if God is impressed! What does He think of all of our practices?
In our first reading today from Isaiah, we find out what God thinks. The prophet was giving God's word to those who had just returned from the Babylonian exile, a people who were eager to observe the rituals which had been denied them for many years. At the beginning of this 58th chapter, the prophet is scolding them for their lack of concern for widows, orphans, and aliens, despite their observance of many fasts.
But then the tone abruptly changes. He tells them that if they look beyond their selfishness and take care of those in need, "then your light shall break forth like the dawn . . . and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. "If you correct your unjust behaviour," then you shall cry for help, and God will say, 'Here I am!"'
Jesus, in the Gospel, goes even further, saying to those who had just heard His teaching on the Beatitudes, "You are the salt of the earth . . . you are the light of the world." In this passage, Jesus urges them not to "light a lamp, and then put it under a bushel basket. No, "your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father."
In a sense, all justice issues are life issues. This Sunday is another call for us to speak out to those who can make a difference. It is a call to pray, to be informed, and to support all avenues to improve justice, wellbeing and ease poverty. When we let our light shine out, then will our sacrifices, our fasts and our prayers be acceptable in God's sight.
Fr. Louis Kemayou, Pastor