February 9: 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Readings: 1. Isaiah 58:7-10; Psalm: 112; 2. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Gospel: Matthew 5:13-16.
Today, biblical thinking guides our understanding of what God asks of his people. And the image of light looms large in this context, because it emphasises the effect our lives are meant to produce.
Because of all the woes and sadness suffered in the wake of the exile, Isaiah is consciously developing in the people of Israel a renewed sense of positive thinking, looking to the future. The way forward demands a new attitude to life, one centred on being a light for others. In essence, this means learning again how right concern for one’s neighbours makes for a brighter future. By their express love for the community at large, a people’s personal witness shines a light on the good deeds willed by God and designed for daily faith and lifestyle.
Paul’s focus this Sunday is on the Gospel he proclaims. He says, quite simply, that his mission is to bring the mystery of God alive for all his listeners. Taking the crucified Jesus as his key image, he professes that he is only able to accomplish his task because of the powerful divine presence of the Father and the Spirit. This Gospel focus is, for him, the essence of Christian faith.
Jesus’ words in Matthew regarding the light are complementary to the Isaiah text. They nicely illustrate the function of light within the dark interior of an ancient Palestinian house. For the light must be placed in the right spot to dispel the house’s natural darkness. Comparing that to the Christian life, one’s good deeds are the light – openly and fittingly honouring God the Father.
Following a simple line of thought, these biblical authors help us know immediately what God asks of us. We are to be shining examples of God’s will so that the world may also see the light.