Helping the homeless pleases the Lord
This reading is from Third Isaiah (chps. 56-66), a post-exilic prophet. The people of Israel who had been taken into exile have just returned. Their land is devastated and their religious life is in chaos. To seek the Lord’s favor, they begin a series of penitential fasts. But it seems their fasting is not the type that pleases the Lord. If they want to please God, they need to practice a religious piety that leads them “to share their bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and homeless, clothe the naked.” They also need to “remove from their midst false accusations and malicious speech.” If they do these things, their “light shall break forth like the dawn and their wound shall quickly be healed.”
Thus says the LORD: 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. — Isa 58:7 (NAB)
PS 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
The just man is a light in darkness to the upright
The theme of light and righteous living is echoed in this Psalm.
Psalm 112, as well as 111 and 119, are the only Psalms that are acrostic by phrase in the Bible; that is, each 7-9 syllable phrase begins with each letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order. The psalm details the blessings received by those who remain close to God by obedience to the commandments. Among their blessings are children (Ps 112:2), wealth that enables them to be magnanimous (Ps 112:3, 5, 9), and virtue by which they encourage others (Ps 112:4). The just person is an affront to the wicked, whose hopes remain unfulfilled (Ps 112:10). The logic resembles Ps 1; 111. (Source: NAB notes).
“Light shines through the darkness for the upright; he is gracious and merciful and just.” — Ps 112:4 (NAB)
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Paul preaches a crucified Christ
Corinth has many learned people who may have expected Paul to possess great oratorical skills. But Paul lets his audience know that he comes to them, not with fancy verbal tricks, but with humility, fear and trembling. He trusts, not in his own preaching gifts, but in the power of the Holy Spirit to touch hearts. Preaching a crucified Christ may be a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who believe, it is the power of God.
I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.— 1 Cor 2:2 (NAB)
Commenting on this Gospel, Fr. Flor McCarthy writes:
Matthew has already introduced Jesus as the light of a darkened world (4:12-16). Now the function of enlightening and guiding a morally confused humanity is shared with his disciples. Salt and light are powerful images. In the ancient world, salt was one of the most important necessities of life, especially for preserving and seasoning food. So too was light for obvious reasons. Both images are making the same point: Christians are called to bear witness to Christ before unbelievers through their good deeds. When the disciples stop witnessing through their deeds, they become as useless as salt that has lost its taste or a lamp that doesn’t give light.
Used with permission granted by Dominican Publications, http://www.dominicanpublications.com. New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies, by Flor McCarthy.
You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. — Mt 5:13a, 14 (NAB)
World Youth Day 2002
DID YOU KNOW: Matthew 5:13-14 became the theme of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto: “You are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world”. It was the last WYD attended by Pope John Paul II.
1. The first reading speaks about “sharing bread with the hungry and clothing the naked.” If there is a food pantry in your area, do you bring food for the needy? If there is a thrift store in your area, do you donate clothes and other stuff? If you do not support a local food pantry or thrift store, why not?
2. Paul went to the Corinthians “in weakness and in fear.” Have you ever had that experience of approaching someone in weakness and in fear? If so, how was that experience for you?
3. Who is a ‘salt of the earth’ type of person in your life? What does it mean to you concretely to be salt and light in your environment?
4. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.
Call to Action
Look in your closet and see what the Holy Spirit may lead you to take to the local thrift store.
Jesus, you call us to be salt and light to the world. Help us to not lose our flavornor allow us to hide our light. Help us daily to give glory to your heavenly Father. Amen.
Sunday Reflection Excerpts
EXCERPT — Sometimes, it’s a question of acting yourself into a new way of being. If you are getting caught up in the divisions of church and society, if the newest electronics are becoming a prime object of your attention, if achieving or maintaining status is fueling your ambition, be careful. You are a city on a hill. The tragic irony is that everybody can see through people whose self-worth depends on such things.
NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER – Mary M. McGlone, CSJ
EXCERPT — Today’s readings remind us that, as baptized Christians, we can’t hide. God — who is a God of justice and mercy — had expectations of Israel. The Israelites weren’t off the hook regarding how they were to act, and neither are the followers of Jesus. God has expectations of us. People see us, they observe what we do and how we act. What are they seeing? We can’t be followers in name only.
NCR SUNDAY RESOURCES – Joan DeMerchant
EXCERPT — Does your parish shine as a light in your neighborhood? Are people drawn to your community of faith by what they see you doing in the area? Perhaps even more basic, does your worship enlighten those who participate? Does it help them understand and embrace the mission that Christ has entrusted to us? Does it fire up parishioners to go forth and spread the good news of God’s mercy? Does it make a difference in their daily lives?
NCR SUNDAY RESOURCES – Fr. Lawrence E. Mick
EXCERPT — In today’s society, in which so many people are poor, suffering, vulnerable and disenfranchised, we must heed Isaiah’s call to action. Praying for people is a good thing to do but is insufficient by itself. Isaiah suggests tangible actions we should be taking. Importantly, Isaiah connects caring for one another with God’s care (Is 58:8-9). By fostering societies in which people support one another, we emulate God, who cares for all of us.
AMERICA MAGAZINE – Jamie Waters
EXCERPT — Jesus seems aware that we may be tempted to hide our faith. We might repress it in our public lives, presuming that it has nothing to offer the “real” world of politics and economics. Or we may just keep it under a basket—a “private” matter that makes no difference to society… If we are honest with ourselves, we will discover that our Christian faith functions little if at all in our political life. The talk is talked, but the walk is not walked. Lip service is paid, but almost every other kind of service is paid to our cultural dogmas.
SUNDAY WEB SITE – John Kavanaugh, SJ
EXCERPT — We need, always, to be giving some of our possessions away in order to be healthy. The poor do need us, but we also need them. They are our passports to heaven, as Jesus puts it so clearly when he tells us we will be judged by how we gave to the poor. And they are also our passports to health. Our health depends upon sharing our riches. — Ron Rolheiser
SUNDAY WEB SITE – Ron Rolheiser, OMI