Reflection for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Feb. 5, 2023

by Carol Craven, ND Associate

1st Reading: Isaiah 58:7-10   Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5   Gospel: Matthew 5:13-16

Today’s readings are about being and doing. Matthew lets us know that Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth…”, and “You are the light of the world.”

What does it mean to be salt? Salt is an important mineral and commodity. Historically it has many uses. It is flavoring, disinfectant, preservative, and even money. What does it mean to be light? Light illuminates the darkness and allows us to see what was hidden.

Both salt and light require maintenance so that salt is not contaminated, nor light dimmed. To do this, we pray, meditate, seek silence and solitude as well as nature. We then come from a place of love. When our light shines it shifts in intensity depending on the circumstances. It may be a warm light, a soft light, or a bright light.

When we hear advertisements about “Shining a light on hunger, on injustices, on sex trafficking, on mental health, or immigration, gun violence, and much more,” we are moved. When a light shines on something, there is awareness. Awareness often requires action. We send money, protest, volunteer, and create programs. In that way we might change our behavior in the family system, in the community, or on a broader scale.

When we ask ourselves when and where are we salt and light, we must shine a rigorous light on our everyday life. We begin to ask ourselves questions such as “How was I compassionate in my family, in my workplace, in the community?” “Did I notice that my neighbor needed a ride, my spouse understanding, my child reassurance? Did I truly listen to the friend or the stranger today? How did I love today?

When we are shining a light on our own darkness it is often scary. When we become aware of areas needing forgiveness, reconciliation, or love. We often become defensive. So, we ask questions. Do we need to be compassionate and loving toward ourselves? What do we seek when we enter our own interior darkness? Do we fear shining a light on our own loneliness, longing, and darkness? Do we ultimately seek God there?

 John O”Donhue in his poem, “Light” says:
“And when we come to search for God,
Let us first be robed in night,
Put on the mind of morning,
To feel the rush of light,
Spread slowly inside color and stillness of a found world.”