Homily (2) 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A: Homily by Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: Isa 58: 7-10; Ps 112:4—9; 1 Cor 2:1-5 and Matt 5:13-16
The Light of True Worship
What the Lord demands from us often, is worship accompanied with morality, a sense of reaching out to the poor and the marginalized of the society, carrying everyone along ,in righteousness and faith like Abraham. This demand of shining the light of true worship goes back to the time of Israel’s’ prophets like Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah. It goes back to the time when the chosen people, the Israelite returned from exile to rebuild the temple, practice their faith, take their Sabbath, and live their religion. One would have thought for a people once oppressed; for a people once persecuted but now freed would have learnt a lesson; a lesson to love, forgive, be kind and be charitable while fasting, sacrificing and worshiping their God.
But that was not the case. This prompted Isaiah in the first reading to admonish, “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked when you see them… they your light shall break forth like the dawn… you shall cry for help and I shall say, here I am” (Isa 58:7-10) .By associating worship with charity and support for the poor the weak and the needy Isaiah lays the foundation for the ministry of Saint Paul, the teachings of Christ in today’s gospel and of course, the foundation for the Church's teachings on the Corporal Works of Mercy.
In the Sermon on the mountain Christ reminds us of the place the poor,and the needy occupy in his heart and the cost of true discipleship. By being poor and humble in their ministry the Disciples of Christ serve not only as the light of the world but also as the salt of the earth, (Matt 5:13-16). The disciples would teach others, especially the self-seekers, how to worship God selflessly and how to fast without violating the poor nor the weak members of the society.While preaching in Corinth Paul builds on the foundation laid by Isaiah and Christ. In Corinth self-seeking, boasting, and infighting had plagued that community. Paul said to them, “When I came to you brothers and sisters, proclaiming the mystery of God. For I resolved to know nothing … except Jesus Christ crucified… I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom... I came to you in weakness and fear and trembling” (1 Cor 2:1-5).
Over the years, and with this foundation the Church teaches the need for Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy. She stresses practice of social justice and social responsibilities such as, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, harboring the harbor-less, visiting with the sick, the imprisoned, burying and praying for those gone before us marked with the sign of faith, as true marks of discipleship.This message cannot be more urgent and relevant than today when worship, fasting and sacrifices are daily carried out in in places of worship all over the world, while the poor and the needy and general issues of social justice are not adequately addressed. Pope Francis in the Gospel of Joy calls this economic inequality and the darkness of exclusion of the poor in the political and socio-economic fabrics of the society.
We become the light of the world by fasting and worshiping God in his terms: by loosening the bonds of injustice, by undoing the thongs of the yoke, by letting the oppressed go free; by promoting peace not war, terrorism and racism; by sharing our bread with the hungry, by bringing the homeless into our homes, by forgiving those who have offended us, by seeking the common good not ourselves, by holding the door of an elevator for the seniors and the aged, by visiting the sick and home bounds, by clothing the naked and welcoming everyone, no matter their language, looks, color, culture, gender and age.