Your light must shine

Sunday readings in brief 5 A

Isaiah 58:7-10; Psalm 111(112); 1 Cor 2:1-5; Mathew 5:13-16

Your light must shine

Dear friends, today is the 5th Sunday in Ordinary time. We are fast approaching the Lenten season. Today’s readings converge on the theme of light. Light is one thing that everyone wants to possess. If we pause for a moment and think about what light means to us, we will realize that without light our lives will be very miserable. Apart from providing us with the visibility to go about our lives even at night or in dark places, light has a lot of psychological benefits for us. Light also is a moral watchdog. Sins, crimes, and many bad things happen under the cover of darkness. Sometimes when we are sick, the pain seems to increase with darkness. When the morning light comes, we feel better. Even in our day-to-day language, we talk of shedding light on situations that are complicated.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses an imperative ‘must’ when addressing his disciples, “your light must shine in the sight of men’. Only those who have seen embraced and possessed the light can shine. Jesus called the twelve to be with them and open their eyes and hearts to see the light so that they can go out there and shine for others to see. The light of the Gospel is much more than one experienced by physical eyesight. Even those who are physically blind may possess more spiritual and psychological light than those who have got both eyes fine. The Pharisees thought that Jesus was insulting them when he told them that they were blind, “”Surely we are not also blind, are we?” (Jn 9:40).

Again Jesus tells us that once we have possessed the light it is not supposed to be private but publically exposed so that all can see. Just like a city built on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. The theme of the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) 19th General Chapter in 2024 is “Your light must shine before others” and “Faithful and creative disciples in a wounded world”. As missionaries, we are called, formed, and sent to the mission to be the light to the people. The people live in different dark situations because of the culture, traditions, beliefs, and sometimes bad governance. As missionaries, we are not supposed to join them and embrace darkness but rather respectively, and gradually help them to see the light. Like Jesus, we are sent to find out the dark spots and shed light on them and heal the many wounds on the people.

The world is wounded and many people are suffering the consequences. The first reading from Isaiah talks about some of the dark situations. There are many hungry people to be fed, many homeless to be sheltered, many naked to be clothed, many broken-hearted to be restored, many sick to be treated and accompanied, and the list can go on and on. As Christians, we are called not to sit back and lament that things are bad but to be creative and with the help of God, find out solutions to the problems that we face today.

A Chinese proverb says, “better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”. Today everyone is lamenting about the climatic changes, and high prices of basic commodities but very few are doing something to reverse the situation. There are many who have the power and resources to do things that can bring relief to the sufferings but they do not want to. let us look around us are at least be grateful for the things we enjoy that we did not put in place. Every time you sit under the shade of a tree, know that it is either by the generosity of nature or by someone selfless planted that tree. This alone can change our attitude towards life and become more generous. No one is so poor that they cannot do something positive to make the world a better home for all.

As the psalmist sings, “The good man (woman) is a light in the darkness for the upright”. We do not need too much philosophy so we can bring change to the world. Like Paul, we only need the power of the Spirit of God and a grateful heart for the grace of God bestowed upon us. I like one song by one choir here in the mission that says “wacheni visingizio enyi wanadamu kwamba hali ngumu” (oh humans, stop giving excuses that things are bad). You are having three meals a day, clothes on you, driving, and living in a good houses, … yet you lament that things are bad.

Dear friends, as we reflect on today’s readings, I invite us to be innovative in our own small ways to disperse the darkness around us. Stand and be counted even if you are the only one standing.

Have a blessed Sunday

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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