Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

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‘your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

OPENING PRAYER

Jesus Light of the World

Jesus, Light of the World, For the many that have followed you today through the darkness of temptation, doubt, or pain, you are the promise of an eternal dawn. We give thanks for all that has been given to us through you, and we ask for the grace to be your faithful disciples. May we praise you all the days of our lives. Amen

COLLECT

Keep your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care,

that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace,

they may be defended always by your protection.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Is 58:7-10

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.

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,

and your wound shall quickly be healed;

your vindication shall go before you,

and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,

you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

If you remove from your midst

oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;

if you bestow your bread on the hungry

and satisfy the afflicted;

then light shall rise for you in the darkness,

and the gloom shall become for you like midday.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.1 Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.2 Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:3

.4 But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.5 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?6

1 Cf. Isa 58:6-7; Heb 13:3.

2 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

3 Cf. Tob 4:5-11; Sir 17:22; Mt 6:2-4.

4 Lk 3:11.

5 Lk 11:41.

6 Jas 2:15-16; cf. 1 Jn 3:17.

APPLICATION

Charity, true love of neighbor which produces good deeds of kindness, is equated with love of God, by Christ himself (Mt. 22:39), and is the proof of one’s true love for God, according to St. John (1 Jn. 4: 20). All our protestations that we love God, and all our devotions and prayers are not only useless, but are lies to God, if we hate one of our neighbors or refuse to help a needy one, when we are able to do so. This is a truth that should make us all stop and think. We may wonder sometimes, if God has forgotten us when all the prayers something we need so badly, are left unanswered. Perhaps it’s for because we have been liars to God’s face, or have professed that we loved him and trusted in his goodness while we hated one his children–our neighbor.

It is true, there are so many calls on our charity today. So many are in dire need at home an abroad, that we can grow tired of sharing our bread or our clothes. But God does not expect, or demand of us, to help everybody, but only as many as we can. However, the obligation of forgiving a neighbor who has offended us, or of ridding ourselves of any racial, color or religious bias, which we hold , costs us only a wee bit of personal pride. Are we so important that nobody should dare ever offend us, or rather do we act as if an offense were meant? Nearly always a friendly word from the one who was offended, or who thought that he was offended, will put the record straight and mutual charity will be restored. Are we so superior because of our color, or our creed, that we can behave insultingly, that is uncharitably, towards a neighbor who hasn’t got these same gifts that we have the good fortune to possess?

Charity begins at home, but it must not end there. Be peaceful, forgiving, cheerful, helpful in the home and you will find how quickly the other members of the family will react and begin to imitate you. Outside of the home our nearest neighbors must be the first to feel the warmth of our charity. Without prying into their private affairs, which is the opposite of charity, we can easily learn, from casual conversation, if any of them are in need of some of the spiritual or corporal works of mercy.

Remember this: he who loves his neighbor with a Christian love, which means that he is always ready to help any neighbor in need, is thereby proving his true love for God. Should the time come when he himself should be in need of help, he is assured of God’s help, and his neighbors will not be found wanting either.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.

Light shines through the darkness for the upright;

he is gracious and merciful and just.

Well for the man who is gracious and lends,

who conducts his affairs with justice.

The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.

He shall never be moved;

the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.

An evil report he shall not fear;

his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.

The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.

His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear.

Lavishly he gives to the poor;

His justice shall endure forever;

his horn shall be exalted in glory.

The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.

READING II

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1 Cor 2:1-5

When I came to you, brothers and sisters,

proclaiming the mystery of God,

I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom.

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you

except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling,

and my message and my proclamation

were not with persuasive words of wisdom,

but with a demonstration of Spirit and power,

so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom

but on the power of God.

APPLICATION

The movie, “The Song of Bernadette,” which gives the story of Lourdes and its miracles, begins with the following, words which are displayed across the screen: “For him who does not believe in God no explanation is possible; for him who believes in God no explanation is necessary.” These words very aptly describe the lesson to be drawn from today’s reading from St. Paul’s first letter to his Corinthian converts. These had not become Christians, they had not changed their mode of life and their outlook on life, because of any human or earthly influence.

Their conversion was due, exclusively, to the divine power which convinced them that there was a God–a God of power and majesty, but especially a God of love, who so loved mankind that he sent his divine Son on earth to bring all men to heaven. The facts of the Incamation, of Christ’s life, death and resurrection were told to them by Paul, but the gift of faith which enabled them to accept these facts as objective reality and truth was given them by God. Worldly wisdom had no part in getting the Corinthians to give up their pagan life of easy morality and loose living, to take on themselves the restrictions and obligations of the Christian faith. Today, more perhaps than in any previous age in the Church’s history, there are Christians who are looking for human reasons, that they think will justify them in giving up the restrictions and obligations of the faith of Christ, to return to the freedom and self-indulgence of neo-paganism.

Human reasoning alone cannot give one an adequate and sufficient knowledge of God, but it does give us a basis on which God’s gift of faith can solidly rest. But there no human logic, no human reasoning. Which can disprove the existence of God, or the fact that he has revealed to us sufficient knowledge of himself, to enable us to reach the end he has planned for us.

It was “the power of God,” and the merciful kindness of God, that brought the gift of faith to the Corinthians. Paul was but the weak, fragile vessel in which in which that gift came to them. It was the same power, and the same merciful goodness of God, which also brought the gift of faith to each one of us through fragile and weak, human vessels. We freely and gladly accepted it, when we came to the age when we were able to appreciate its value, not only for the after-life, but also for our years on earth. Our faith has been called, by the irreverent, the “opium of the people.” If peace of mind, consolation in sorrow, a knowledge of whither we are going, an understanding of the meaning of suffering, as well as the explanation of true joy, can be called an “opium,” then the more of that opium which this world gets the more human, as well as the more divine, it will become.

May God make his gift of faith grow stronger in each one of us, so that we may learn daily more and more about the infinite love God has for us; about the humiliations the Son of God suffered in his Incarnation for our sakes, and about the great eternal future the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have prepared for us.

GOSPEL

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MT 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples:

You are the salt of the earth.

But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?

It is no longer good for anything

but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world.

A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.

Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;

it is set on a lampstand,

where it gives light to all in the house.

Just so, your light must shine before others,

that they may see your good deeds

and glorify your heavenly Father.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/020517.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 326 The Scriptural expression “heaven and earth” means all that exists, creation in its entirety. It also indicates the bond, deep within creation, that both unites heaven and earth and distinguishes the one from the other: “the earth” is the world of men, while “heaven” or “the heavens” can designate both the firmament and God’s own “place” – “our Father in heaven” and consequently the “heaven” too which is eschatological glory. Finally, “heaven” refers to the saints and the “place” of the spiritual creatures, the angels, who surround God.1

CCC 782 The People of God is marked by characteristics that clearly distinguish it from all other religious, ethnic, political, or cultural groups found in history:

It is the People of God: God is not the property of any one people. But he acquired a people for himself from those who previously were not a people: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”2

One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being “born anew,” a birth “of water and the Spirit,”3 that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism.

This People has for its Head Jesus the Christ (the anointed, the Messiah). Because the same anointing, the Holy Spirit, flows from the head into the body, this is “the messianic people.”

– “The status of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple.”

– “Its law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved us.”4 This is the “new” law of the Holy Spirit.5

Its mission is to be salt of the earth and light of the world.6 This people is “a most sure seed of unity, hope, and salvation for the whole human race.”

-Its destiny, finally, “is the Kingdom of God which has been begun by God himself on earth and which must be further extended until it has been brought to perfection by him at the end of time.”7

CCC 1243 The white garment symbolizes that the person baptized has “put on Christ,”8 has risen with Christ. The candle, lit from the Easter candle, signifies that Christ has enlightened the neophyte. In him the baptized are “the light of the world.”9

The newly baptized is now, in the only Son, a child of God entitled to say the prayer of the children of God: “Our Father.”

CCC 2821 This petition is taken up and granted in the prayer of Jesus which is present and effective in the Eucharist; it bears its fruit in new life in keeping with the Beatitudes.10

1 Pss 115:16; 19:2; Mt 5:16.

2 1 Pet 2:9.

3 Jn 3:3-5.

4 Cf. Jn 13 34

5 Rom 8:2; Gal 5:25.

6 Cf. Mt 5:13-16.

7 LG 9 # 2.

8 Gal 3:27.

9 Mt 5:14; cf. Phil 2:15.

10 Cf. Jn 17:17-20; Mt 5:13-16; 6:24; 7:12-13.

APPLICATION

No less an authority than Christ himself calls his true followers the “salt of the earth.” and the “light of the world.” These are titles of honor, surely, and of the greatest distinction. Christ is putting his true follower on almost a level with himself. He was the light of the world; he was the salt of the earth. He it was who gave men the knowledge of the true nature of God, as shown by the Incarnation. He it was who gave this life its flavor, who gave this life its meaning, its preservation. By his death and resurrection he took away the sting of death, and removed its eternal corruption, by the guarantee and promise of a resurrection to an eternal life.

This very Christian knows, and this knowledge every Christian helps to bring to those who are ignorant of it, if he lives his life daily and sincerely. The Christian who does this, is really another Christ; he is continuing his work of salvation during his years on earth. He is the salt, of the earth and the light of the world. How many of us, can truly say that these honorable titles, which Christ gives to his followers, are given to us?

In true humility, we can all say that we are far from worthy of any such honorable titles. Yet in all sincerity too, many if not the majority among us, are doing their little bit of Christ’s work, in cultivating their own small comer of his vineyard. The parents who teach the Christian way of life to their children by word, and especially by example, are spreading the Christian faith. The workmen, whether in office or factory, who show that they are Christians by their honesty, charity for their fellowmen, their respect for God, and the things of God, in their speech, are spreading their Christian faith. All those who show moderation in their personal expenditures, and donate some of their savings to help their brothers, their fellow men who are in need, these are true disciples of Christ and are cooperating with him in bringing God’s children back to their Father who is in heaven.

Unlike the salt that has lost its flavor, and the light that is kept under the bushel, the Christian who has thus behaved can change his attitude, provided he is aided by God’s grace which is never refused. He can become once more what he ought to be–a life-preserver for his neighbor.

Life on earth is short. The demands of our Christian life may not always be easy, but we know that if we live up to them, we are other Christs. We are continuing his great work by our own good example to our neighbor, and we are giving glory to God, and are earning for ourselves the eternal light of heaven.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Humans are Dependent

Humans are dependent. They cannot live except from others and by trust. But there is nothing degrading about dependence when it takes the form of love, for then it is no longer dependence, the diminishing of self through competition with others. Dependence in the form of love precisely constitutes the self as self and sets it free, because love essentially takes the form of saying, “I want you to be.” It is creativity, the only creative power, which can bring forth the other as other without envy or loss of self. Humans are dependent – that is the primary truth about them. And because it is, only love can redeem them, for only love transforms dependence into freedom. Thus human beings will only succeed in destroying their own redemption, destroying themselves, if they eliminate love “to be on the safe side.” For humans, the crucified God is the visible certainty that creation is already an expression of love: we exist on the foundation of love. It is therefore a constitutive part of Christian faith to accept mystery as the center of reality, that is to say, to accept love, creation as love, and to make that love the foundation of one’s life.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Act of Love

O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all good and worthy of all my love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured, through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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