Homily for 9 February 2014 - 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Isaiah 58:7-10; I Corinthians 2:1-5; Psalm112; Matthew 12:13-16

In our Gospel lesson from St. Matthew, Our Lord says to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth” and “You are the light of the world.” I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been feeling very salty or shiny bright lately. Six months of ill health and recovery have left me depleted physically and mentally; I have used more guest homilies and retread homilies from previous years in the last few months than in probably all of the last 30 years together. For various reasons this kind of thing happens to all of us, so, when it does, what do we do? Well for one thing, be glad that we are not really salt, for our Lord says, “But what if salt goes flat? How can you restore its flavor? Then it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Flat human beings are not the same thing as flat salt, we can be restored, re-invigorated. But how? In our lesson from the Prophet Isaiah, the Lord says, “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.” When we are wounded by life, from whatever cause, our healing comes in service to others. If we are not able, it is not necessary to leave our homes for this kind of service, we can serve our families and make our home a place of peace and prayer, of joy and devotion. We can pray for others in need, we can contribute to agencies in our community that feed the hungry and do the other works of corporal mercy that we cannot. Being ill, or tied to our homes for other reasons, does not mean that we stop being soldiers in Christ’s army. In some ways, in fact, it is the home that is the front lines in the spiritual war that we are fighting, not the marketplace, or the halls of government. Auntie Leila, with the help of a friend, has written a book called, “The Little Oratory”, a how-to guide for setting up a prayer table in the home and establishing family prayer and devotion. I have not read it, but from what I have seen on the website, that even though it has a Roman slant, it would be a good resource for any family. It even includes detachable icons.

There is no situation in our life in which we cannot, with God’s help, serve God and God’s people. As the saying goes, the only ability we need is availability. St. Paul, in his first letter to the Church at Corinth, writes, “When I came to you I did not come proclaiming God’s testimony with particular eloquence or ‘wisdom.’…When I came among you it was in weakness and fear, and with much trepidation. My message and my preaching had none of the persuasive force of ‘wise’ argumentation, but the convincing power of the Spirit. As a consequence, your faith rests not on human wisdom but on the power of God.” Human wisdom may say to us: You can’t, you’re too sick, or too tired, or too busy, or: You can’t, you don’t know how, you don’t know enough, you don’t have the resources. But when the Spirit says, with my help you can – we better go with the Spirit. For one thing, the Spirit probably has a more accurate estimation of our ability than we, or any one else has. For another, that is what we promised in our Baptism, to follow Christ, to be led by his Spirit. God knows our abilities, and our disabilities, our strengths and our weaknesses. And God calls on our weakness and disability to serve him as often, and sometimes more often, than our ability and strength. Because, as St. Paul says, it must be God who is seen and heard, not us.

So, if we are feeling like salt that has gone flat, or a dim and wavering light, don’t despair: Pray and work, no matter how limited the arena, love and serve, no matter how few, and – “Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.”

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