The readings for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time reveal the goodness God desires to place in the hearts of His people.
In the first reading from Isaiah, God tells us that when we share the goodness He has bestowed upon us, we will experience His godliness within ourselves.
When you "share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and homeless ... then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed." It seems counter-intuitive that what we give to the poor will fill our hearts with God's light and love. We will be light to those who are in darkness. We will demonstrate to others that God's goodness comes from inside of us.
The Lord continues: "If you remove from your midst oppression ... 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."
There is nothing that our hearts crave more than the light and the love of God. It speaks to the deepest desires of our souls.
The responsorial psalm continues this theme: "The just man is a light in darkness to the upright." When the just man is oppressed by the wicked and bears it patiently, he isn't afraid because God's goodness removes the fear of evil. It's obvious in both the first reading and the responsorial psalm that God's goodness shines through weak human beings and reveals God as the source of the goodness others experience.
Paul demonstrates this in the second reading. "When I came among you, it was in weakness and fear, and with much trepidation. My message and my preaching had none of the persuasive force of 'wise' argumentation, but the convincing power of the Spirit." In other words Paul says, "It is through my weakness, fear and brokenness that the Holy Spirit was able to bless you."
This is always true in our hearts. In spite of the virtues that we don't have, the Holy Spirit shines through our weakness and reflects God's overwhelming mercy and forgiveness. We give much hope to fellow sinners.
In the Gospel, Jesus says "You are the salt of the earth." I grew up on a farm and knew firsthand the preservative value of salt. When we processed pork, we soaked it in saltwater for six weeks. The salt preserved it for an entire year. Without it, pork spoils within a week. When we live a repentant life in accord with the Gospel, we serve as a preservative for others. We are an inspiration for them to find the same merciful savior as their "preservative."
Jesus continues, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Men do not light a lamp and put it under a bushel basket." Believe me, others are always observing you. Your good deeds give light and hope to their souls.
Our society seems to be ever growing in darkness. When I see people marching and protesting, even if I don't agree with them, I am called to intercede for them. This has been a very blessed election season because it has given us ample opportunity to intercede for those with whom we have disagreed.
Once our eyes are opened, it's easier to see that the darkness isn't so much the work of human beings, but rather the real darkness that pervades our society comes from the kingdom of evil. It has come to us through people such as Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. It has come to us through Planned Parenthood, which is the product of atheistic communism. The darkness in higher education has come to us through John Dewey and the Communist party that educated him in darkness.
It has also come to us through the community organizing principles advocated by national leaders, who steeped themselves in Saul D. Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals," which acknowledges Lucifer as the "very first radical."
The very people with whom we may be angry aren't so much perpetrators of evil as the victims of evil. If we merely turn against them, we too will become victims of the same satanic darkness. On the other hand, St. John tells us to remember, "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
Our responsorial psalm states, "The Lord dawns through the darkness, a light for the upright." The Lord Jesus Himself tells us that we are the light of the world. He is infinitely more powerful than Satan. Through intercessory prayer, we align ourselves with the Gospel values that bring light into our society and peace into our world.
So often we look into the future filled with fear of the suffering that might come our way. Rather, we should look into the future filled with joy that we have been selected by Jesus to witness His Gospel values to others who may be confused and oppressed by the Evil One and not know it. One hundred years from now we will not be filled with joy for the suffering we have evaded, but for having exercised the courage to embrace the Gospel which calls us to witness and evangelize, even at the expense of losing our reputations and our very lives. Scripture tells us: "If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts." RELATED ARTICLE(S):I thought you should know | Jesus invites us to ask Him for His help