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Bulletin: February 9, 2020

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The prophet Isaiah inspires us with these words: “Light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.” All of us celebrating the liturgy today praise God for these words of encouragement. Surely each of us knows the gloomy side of life, but today’s readings propose a brilliant antidote to misery: the light of service. Isaiah focuses on physical suffering, telling us to provide food, clothing, housing, and equal opportunity to those with limited resources. Moving beyond material needs, Saint Paul demonstrates how to proceed humbly when attending to people’s spiritual needs. Saint Matthew’s Gospel stirs us to bold action: whatever gifts we have, we must put them at the service of our communities. As Christians, we must engage with one another without holding back, letting our light shine before all.


Today’s readings leave no room for half-heartedness. As beneficiaries of God’s providence, we cannot hold back when serving others. When Isaiah instructs us to share our bread with the hungry, he offers no qualifications. He does not add, “if you think you can,” or “after all of your own needs have been met.” On the contrary, the prophet simply reports that God expects us to care for those in need. In a similar way, the Gospel call is unconditional. Like a city atop a mountain, the Christian life cannot be hidden. Followers of Jesus do not have the option to sit by and wish vaguely for someone else to take care of hunger, homelessness, oppression, and ignorance. God calls us into service. If we have heard the call, we must respond.


We all agree that caring for others is important. Absolutely no one wants to see a child waste away from starvation. And yet, we often fear to donate time, talent, or money to charitable causes. What if recipients use the money poorly? What if donations promote helplessness and long-term dependence? What if my own situation isn’t very stable? How can I help others when my daily life is so difficult and the future so uncertain? These are legitimate questions. And God wants us to use our intellect when discerning how best to perform good deeds. But uncertainty must not lead to inaction. If we don’t know exactly how to proceed, we must spend a great deal of time in prayer. In prayer, we consider our options and ask the Lord to show us how to be salt and light in the world. As today’s psalm reminds us, God calls us to be gracious and merciful. Believing firmly that God will always care for us, we trust with steadfast hearts and share with others—not occasionally, guiltily, or provisionally, but “lavishly.”

Today’s Readings: Is 58:7–10; Ps 112:4–5, 6–7, 8–9; 1 Cor 2:1–5; Mt 5:13–16

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