5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Let us pray:

God, our Redeemer,

Oscar Romero taught us

Not to tire of preaching love;

It is the force that will overcome the world.

Help us be lovers in all sense of the word.

Help us be more like You.  AMEN

Archbishop Oscar Romero’s life’s work was to oppose, at great personal risk, the tyrannical repression in El Salvador.  He was a humble man (remember our reading last week on humility?), and yet he spoke out for what he believed was truth.  He directed himself to all the people in El Salvador, people from the left as well as people from the right, people supportive of the guerillas as well as people in the government and the army, people who were being killed as well as their killers, the oppressed as well as the oppressors.  He was killed during Mass by his enemies; he is now a martyr in the eyes of the church.  What he spoke and lived is an example for all of us.  His life exemplifies the readings for this weekend.

1st Reading – Isaiah 58:7-10

This is from 2nd Isaiah, written after the Babylonian Exile.  Jerusalem had been destroyed, but this is meant to be encouraging.  Right before this section, Isaiah spoke of fasting and how it shouldn’t be done in a showy way.  This is misdirected; use that energy to help the poor and those less fortunate.  Spirituality that is other-centered shines like a beacon in the midst of the darkness  (Birmingham, W&W, p. 380).  Are we a community that is like a beacon?  How could we be better?

” We have to try to bring out all that is good in each person and try to develop an atmosphere of trust, not with physical force, as though dealing with irrational beings, but with a moral force that draws out the good that is in everyone…Thus, with all contributing their own interior life, their own responsibility, their own way of being, all can build the beautiful structure of the common good, the good that we construct together and that creates conditions of kindness, of trust, of freedom, of peace.”  Oscar Romero 7/10/1977

2nd Reading – 1 Corinthians 1-5

Don’t we sometimes think we are the ones that have it right, that there is only one way to solve a problem – and it’s yours?  True human wisdom is pure gift from God (One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit!).  Who could ever look for God’s wisdom and power within an instrument of capital punishment and torture?  Yet that was exactly what Paul was demanding that followers of Christ do if they wished to know true, divine wisdom.  Paul proclaimed the power of the cross (p. 381).

“God willed to reveal himself and manifest the mystery of his will.  Through Christ and with him through his Spirit humans can attain the Father and share in the nature of God…He wanted to teach us that we must live in continuous converse with him and that we must live by his life, that we must lose ourselves in the beauty, in the sublimity of God, giving him thanks for favors received, begging pardon for our infidelities, praying to him when the limitations of our power clash with the greatness asked of us.  We must learn to understand that we have such a capacity and that God desires to fill up that capacity.”  Oscar Romero 8/13/1978

The Gospel – Matthew 5:13-16

When Jesus called his disciples the salt of the earth, it was the highest compliment.  Salt was highly valued:

  1. It stood for purity (its whiteness).
  2. It was a common preservative.  It kept things from going bad  (preserves from corruption).  Do you know someone who makes it easy for you to be good?
  3. It gives flavor.  A Christian should be full of vigor and life!  Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers, (Barclay on the Gospel of Matthew, Vol I, p. 119-121).

Jesus called himself a light to the world, so here he is complimenting the disciples again by referring to them as he would himself.  We do not produce our own light but reflect the light of Christ.  Lamps in those days were like a bowl filled with oil and the wick floating in it.  It was hard to rekindle a lamp, so when it was not on the lampstand, it would be protected under a bushel basket, (p. 122-124).  The light’s purpose is to shine.  We are meant to shine too!

“To believe, to hope:  this is the Christian’s grace in our time.  When many give up hope, when it seems to them the nation has nowhere to go, as though it were all over, the Christian says:  No, we have not yet begun.  We are still awaiting God’s grace.  With certainty, it is just beginning to be built on this earth…That time will come!  For me, this is the greatest honor in the mission the Lord has entrusted to me:  to be maintaining that hope and that faith in God’s people and to tell them:  People of god, be worthy of that name.”  Oscar Romero 9/2/1979

Oscar Romero said in a homily:  As a Christian, I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I shall rise again in the Salvadoran people.

Let us pray.:

Help us to bring light

into all the darkness of life, spreading hope for a better world,

a world where justice is made real by your children living together

in harmony.

Help us to bring salt

into the blandness of life,

encouraging vitality and joy in living

in a world that dares to hope

for the future that you promise

where all your children will know themselves

loved and valued

and treasured,

created in your image,

bringing you glory forever.

Amen

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