by Sister Ann Rehrauer
During Ordinary Time, the First Reading and the Gospel for Sundays are chosen because they carry a similar theme. This week, the Scripture readings call us to live our faith through acts of mercy.
Isaiah exhorts us to carry out the corporal works of mercy: share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked, and do not turn your back on your own.
In the Gospel account, Jesus uses images of salt and light to describe those same types of action we are called to carry out in his name. The primary purpose of these actions is to benefit others. The secondary result, however, is that the Kingdom grows, goodness increases, and God is glorified.
A light on a mountain top cannot be hidden, and fresh salt flavors all that it touches. So, too, a Christian who assists a friend or a stranger, shines forth and brightens the life of all he/she meets. When we see these positive actions in others (and when others see them in us), it reminds everyone of how Jesus cared for and brought hope to the people of his time.
This week may we find (at least) two opportunities to be salt and light – to flavor our part of the world with mercy and goodness, so that others "may see our good deeds and glorify God” who uses us to care for the people of our time. Find your own way: monetary contributions, volunteering at shelters or food pantries, visits or phone calls to elderly folks, assistance with shopping or shoveling, and prayer for those in need. In all these ways, people will find hope and God will be glorified.
I think doing these things is especially important right now because of the climate of worry and pessimism since the election. There are many things being enacted that we can't do anything about, but we CAN continue to bring Jesus' good news to others, one at a time, within our own little sphere of influence. Maybe it's more important than ever.
MERCY ...... hesed (Hebrew) for a 'womb-love;' loving-kindness; deep bond of compassion, born of intrinsic love ..... Who can adequately describe this? The very most one can do is EXPERIENCE it, and KNOW what the pure-gift of God's Deepest Love feels like.
Check out the award-winning foreign film- documentary, CHILDREN OF HEAVEN, available at the public library, to WITNESS and KNOW for yourself God's Beautiful Work of Mercy, so very real in these 'poor' children, demonstrated over and over again on a regular, daily basis.
This is something the 'rich' and the arrogant and the powerful and the greedy cannot know, cannot comprehend. It is how and why the 'poor,' the 'anawim' of God, are, indeed, "blessed." This is what Mother Teresa tried to teach us, too.
Amen. Every one of us has been blessed to share God's grace with a hurting world in so many different ways. Share your gifts!
We DO need to be reminded of opportunities to be salt and light...and to ACT on them!