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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Feb. 9, 2014

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

February 9, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle A. Readings:

1) Isaiah 58:7-10

Psalm: 112:4-9

2) 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Gospel: Matthew 5:13-16

The passage from Isaiah 58 is one of my great favorites. God has caused me to turn to it at times of change in my life over the past 25 years. I have notes in the margins of my Bible making reference to many of these new beginnings. It is a touchstone for me.

But the point of the Scripture has to do with living justly and taking care of the poor and those without food, clothing and housing.

Given the Catholic perspective on Scripture, we should interpret this Isaiah passage in light of the Gospel reading from Matthew. We must be salt and light, says Jesus. He lays out a choice and a challenge: If we are salt, we must not lose our savor, or we are good for nothing; if we light a light, we must put it where everyone can see it, not under a basket.

All should see us and know that the love of God permeates us, as salt does a good dish. All should see the light of Christ when they see us and know that our love is available to them. Many years ago, I was having a discussion with my friend Ruth, an advocate for social justice recognized for her work in establishing parish justice ministries.

But this was just a simple conversation about charity and justice. I offended Ruth by referring to giving assistance to others as charity. Ruth said, with fierceness, that when we were talking about everyone having access to an adequate living -- food, clothing and shelter -- we were talking about justice, not charity.

I struggled with her statement but came to agree with her. As admirable as it is to give so that others may eat and be clothed, it is also our obligation as Christians to make sure that the structures of the economy make it possible for people to provide a decent living for themselves, whether they are giving their work in kitchens, fields, factories, offices, schools or drive-thru windows.


Do you seek to remember that the light of Christ lives in you because he loves you? Is there some small way you can assure God's justice reigns in society?


"You are the salt of the earth." -- Matthew 5:13


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