Theme: WE ARE THE LIGHT THAT SHOWS PEOPLE THE WAY TO GOD
- Isaiah 58:7-10
- Psalm 111:4-9. R. v. 4
- 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
- John 8:12
- Matthew 5:13-16
Today is the 5th Sunday of the Year, and the Church has chosen the readings of today to tell us that we are the light that shows people the way to God! In the New Testament light symbolizes: (i) anything that shows the way to God. (ii) Light also symbolizes life and happiness, as opposed to darkness, misery and death. (iii) Light also symbolizes good and God, as darkness symbolizes evil and the Devil, and God and goodness will overcome the Devil and evil. (NJB, Jn 8:12b)
The 3 themes are distinct but inseparable, that is, one who finds God, finds life and happiness, and this life and happiness will be full, complete and perfect at the end of time when good will have overcome evil totally and completely!
The theme that predominates the readings today is that we are the light that shows the way to God, and in fact the Church has chosen the readings today to tell us that we are the light that shows people the way to God!
The gospel acclamation (Jn 8:12) tells us that Jesus is the light that shows the way to God our Father! And the gospel (Mt 5:16) tells us that we the disciples of Jesus are also the light that shows the way to God our Father! The gospel tells us that we are the light and seeing our “good works” people will give praise to God our Father! If we do not do good works we are like the light that is hidden in the tub or under the bed, that is, our light cannot be seen by people, and our light cannot show people the way to God!
The “good work” that we have done in the past for the Tsunami victims is indeed light that shows people the way to God! We collected funds for the Tsunami victims who have lost their families, relatives, properties, belongings, and who have no food, clothes or shelter, and who are threatened by diseases and death, and we also prayed for the more than 200,000 victims who died in the Tsunami disaster.
The war in Iraq is darkness, it does not show people the way to God; but the relief work done by the USA is light that shows people the way to God! The USA besides committing USD 350,000,000.00, also committed an aircraft carrier and a hundred planes for relief work in Aceh, Indonesia. Australia also committed USD 950,000,000.00, Germany committed USD 650,000,000.00, and Japan committed USD 500,000,000.00. The International community has shown great love, care and concern for the victims of the Tsunami disaster, and this is light that shows people the way to God!
The first reading from Third-Isaiah (5th century BC, after the Exile) tells us that our “good works” must not be limited to interpersonal relationships, but must also extend to meta-personal relationships, that is, societal, public, structural, systematic, and institutional relationships. In other words, we must also practice social justice. We must pay our employees just wages. We must not oppress and exploit the poor and the weak and the disenfranchised of society. Justice and charity must be built into the very political structures, economic systems and social institutions of our society!
The first reading tells us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to pay just wages to the workers, to shelter the homeless, to free the oppressed, and not to exploit the poor, the weak, and the disenfranchised, etc.! The first reading tells us that our light will then shine like the dawn!
The Responsorial Psalm helps us to meditate on the theme of the first reading and the gospel. The response of the responsorial psalm sums up the theme of the responsorial psalm: “The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright”! The good man is a light in his good works. He is generous, merciful and just. He lends to the poor. He gives to the poor and he practices justice, etc..
It is easier for me to preach “good works” and “justice”, but it is harder for me to do good works and practice justice, that is why I say with Saint Paul in the second reading today, ‘I do not depend on myself, I do not depend on human philosophy, but I depend on the power of the Holy Spirit, I depend on the power of God.
And that is why we pray, and that is why we celebrate the Eucharist today and every Sunday. Today we celebrate the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his Risen Body and drink his Risen Blood, and our Risen Lord will give us his Holy Spirit, so that through the power of his Holy Spirit, through the power of God, we may do good works and practice justice, and shine as the light that shows people the way to God!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.