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  • Bill Miller

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - February 5, 2023

Isaiah 58:7-10 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Matthew 5:13-16

As is often the case, there is a clear and significant connection between today’s first reading and the gospel passage, both in the language and in the message. They emphasize service, discipleship and a moral imperative to care for those in need.

The first reading (Isaiah 58:7-10) is addressed to the Israelites who have just returned from captivity in Babylon. They are rightfully concerned with rebuilding their nation. The Lord, speaking through Isaiah, is instructing them on how to do the job properly - by paying particular attention to the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the oppressed. Stephen S. Wilbricht, in the Workbook for Lectors. Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word (Liturgy Training Publications, Inc.) writes: “For Israel, attention to the poor and the oppressed will be like a key that opens the door to success for the former refugees (The Israelites). He envisions the return to the Promised Land as a renewal of the covenant that summons the people to act as God has acted toward them.” (pp. 57-58)

The gospel (Matthew 5:13-16) directly follows the passage we heard last weekend on the beatitudes. It uses language about light, similar to the words of Isaiah hundreds of years earlier.

These words, from both Isaiah and Jesus, reference the rebuilding of nations. Not only nations of the past, but nations today. As we look about, we can see many circumstances where people are poor, hungry, homeless; or oppressed by war, captivity or injustice. We see it, not only in the news feeds we watch, but in the cities, towns and villages where we live. I need not look very far to see people like me - except for the fact that they have not had the opportunities I have had - suffering and in need.

Will I consent to be the hands and feet of Christ, as St. Teresa of Avila suggests? I have many gifts, many tools in my toolbox that I can offer in service to the Lord by serving God’s people. My gifts of time, talent and treasure are not much good to anyone, including me, if I don’t use them to help others grow and flourish. I invite you to ponder, as I do, how I am being called by God - daily - to be a disciple.

by: Bill Miller

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