Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A
February 05, 2023 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Isaiah 58:7-10 | Psalm 112:4-9
I Corinthians 2:1-5 | Matthew 5:13-16

+Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, AMEN.

“You are the light of the world,”  Jesus tells us today!

Following the Sermon on the Mount and the teaching of the Beatitudes about which Father David spoke thoroughly last Sunday, in our Gospel from Matthew today, Jesus uses the metaphors “salt” and “light” to describe our mission here on earth.  In the first century A-D, salt was a precious commodity as it was used not only in cooking for flavor but also as a healing agent.  At that time, the main source of light was the sun by day and the moon by night.  There were also fires, lamps, and torches, but no electricity or batteries for light existed.

“Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”  Jesus continues.

This is our call to a life committed to social justice and acts of mercy and it is meant for everyone!

So, why do so many people ignore this and turn to their dark sides?

Before the pandemic, there was a movie in 2019 titled “Parasite” which actually won the Academy Award for best picture.  It tells the story of a poverty-stricken family, the Kims, who are cunning con artists and they place themselves in the service of the Parks, a highly educated, wealthy household.  The movie takes place in South Korea where the Kim children who are attending college take over the Park’s affluent home as their own instead of pursuing their own educations to obtain their own careers and means of supporting themselves.  The violence and brutality that results are truly mind-boggling.

Being a former educator, perhaps what shocked me the most about this film was that the Kim children, who had an opportunity to better their lives and raise their social status by completing their educations and pursuing their own livelihoods,  instead chose to forego that plan and loot, plunder, steal from and eventually kill their benevolent, generous, and kind employers, the Parks.

So, why do people become violent?  According to Psychology Today, an accumulation of negative factors (such as maltreatment, chaotic neighborhoods, or psychological problems) and the absence of positive factors (such as opportunities to be successful, being around adults who provide encouragement, belonging to a church or school offering positivity, or a resilient temperament) when the negative factors reach a threshold, that’s when violence is more likely to erupt as a means of coping with life’s problems.

In our first reading from Isaiah, we are given the action plan for how to let our light shine on others:

–share your bread with the hungry

–shelter the oppressed and the homeless

–clothe the naked when you see them

–remove oppression, false accusation, and malicious speech from your midst

These basic needs of life are what outline the Universal Declaration of Thirty Human Rights penned by the United Nations in nineteen-forty-eight.

In today’s Psalm, we are told “Light shines through the darkness for the upright; he is gracious and merciful and just.”  We all must stand for justice for the poor and the oppressed and call out injustices such as that of Tyre Nichols, George Floyd, all the mass shootings, hate crimes, and evil political tyrants.

In our second reading from 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us, “When I came to you brothers and sisters, proclaiming the mystery of God, it was not with any show of oratory or philosophy, but simply to tell you to rest your faith not on human wisdom but on the power of God.”

In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus speak using the metaphors of “salt” and “light” as a continuation of last week’s Sermon on the Mount.  The term “salt” is used to symbolize one’s truthfulness in the strength of our covenant with God.  We are the ones called to make a difference in the world and counteract the moral decay and evil in society just as salt helps heal wounds and preserve food from decay.  When we fail to do this, we have lost our taste according to Jesus.

Jesus refers to all Christian followers of Him as the “light”.  It is important to note that according to the Gospel of John, “Jesus is the true light which lights every person who comes into the world.”  Jesus helps us see our way to God and do His will of exposing

the darkness in the world which includes acts that are abusive, malevolent, deceptive, dishonest, and unfaithful.  We are called to raise the fallen state of humanity and our society and to do our best to end spiritual apathy.  We all, as followers of Jesus, are called to be the “salt” and light”.

So, let’s all ask ourselves today, “What can I do to let my light shine to bring peace and happiness to all the people in my life?”