Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 9, 2020
Today, in Mercy, our readings are threaded on a theme of light, justice, and healing.
Isaiah writes to a formerly exiled community trying to restore itself after returning to Jerusalem. Tensions, meanness, and dissatisfactions tear at the community. Focus on religious rituals becomes excessive while communitarian practices are ignored.
It is a sad and fractious time for Israel.
Isaiah tells them they are missing the whole point. The path to healing their national soul is not through empty religious words and practices.
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.
In our second reading, Paul writes to the Corinthian community similarly disturbed. He reminds the Corinthians that he came to build Christian community among them humbly and open to the Holy Spirit. Like Isaiah in the first reading, Paul now reminds his community not to miss the point:
I came to you in weakness …
so that your faith might rest
not on human wisdom
but on the power of God.
Jesus tells his disciples to let that power of God shine in them by virtue of their good deeds — the very same deeds Isaiah recommends to his listeners:
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.
In sum, our readings caution us that failures in charity and mercy wound us, both as individuals and as a community. Meanness kills – not only its object, but its subject as well.
When we remove all meanness from our actions, the Light shines, healing all our wounds.
Music: Let Your Light Shine – Mike Balhoff and Darryl Ducote