It is Christ That Unifies Us

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 58: 7-10; 1 Cor 2: 1-5; Mt 5: 13-16

Deacon Larry Brockman

Today, all three of our readings tell us that the most important thing we can do in living our lives from day-to-day is to live the message of Christianity rather than preach it in words.  And what is more, that is something that all of us can do.  We can all spread the light of Christ by our attitude and enthusiasm for our faith; and by working together in doing it.  We don’t have to be gifted in all the details of theology to do that.  Our actions speak louder than words.   

Notice that St. Paul tells the Corinthians that when he came, he did not use fancy words, or wise arguments, or clever catch words to preach Christ.  He did not package his message with slick Madison Avenue sales gimmicks.  Rather, he came with “a demonstration of spirit and power”.  In other words, Paul projected a sense of commitment and fervor in what he believed; and people could see he was the genuine article because he demanded nothing in return.   

Elsewhere in the Epistles we learn that Paul accepted no pay or hospitality but carried his own weight by working as a tentmaker.  Paul did not work mighty deeds, make bold promises, or guarantee worldly success.  Paul just lived the message he preached.  That was novel and different in the Roman World of the first century.  It as a tactic that worked.   

And then we have the words of advice from Isaiah.  Who says: “Your light shall break forth like the dawn.”  That’s similar to the message Paul expressed, isn’t it?  Because Isaiah is recommending that the people show their commitment to God by the actions that they perform.  Isaiah recommends that the people simply be kind to each other, especially to those who have less.  At the same time, Isaiah asks for harmony- that the people should “remove oppression and false accusation” from their midst.  This is a script for doing away with factions and divisions.  These factions get in the way of the real progress that man can make in living together in peace.    

That brings me to the Gospel.  Jesus had just preached his sermon on the mount to a large crowd of people.  The Beatitudes were the essence of that message and precede this reading.  The Beatitudes are all about emptying self and doing God’s will.   

But just after Jesus finished preaching the Beatitudes, he tells his disciples that they need to be the “salt of the earth”, and a “light to the world”.  He tells them that it is not good enough to just accept his message and live it quietly; rather, they have to go out and spread that message.  And they have to deliver the message with salt- because it brings the taste of the message to life.  How else could this be done unless the people lived the message with zest and commitment.   

And they are to go out and spread the message like light disperses.  It is like the image given in Isaiah: Light breaking forth like the dawn.  For indeed, light pours out of small racks and spreads everywhere; and when the sun rises, it brightens and permeates everything.  That is the nature of light.   

So, how do we do that?  How do we maintain the zest in salt and spread our faith like a bright light?  We do it by the way we treat each other and the way we project ourselves as we live our lives.  We do it by engaging in the community that we live in; not by hiding in it.  We do it by being witnesses for what we believe- by speaking up at the right time; by being there for others when they need us; by failing to embrace the secular values when they are pushed on us; by being enthusiastic about life and Jesus Christ.   

It means a whole lot of little things.  Do we all say grace before meals when we are in public?  Are we enthusiastic about the religious activities we engage in when we talk to others?  Do we praise God for the beauty of his creation?  Do we refrain from gossip and forming factions?   

And from what I know about this small group of Catholics in in isolated community.  You do all that.  You are engaging the wider community and witnessing that you are Catholic.  You are doing it with zest and it is working. 

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