Light of the World: Doctrinal Homily Outline for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Feed the Hungary by Antonio Canova

Feed the Hungary by Antonio Canova

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), February 9, 2014, (1) provides insights into the Sunday Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this three-part approach, click here.)

Central idea: Light of the world. Doctrine: The right to religious freedom and the social duty of Catholics. Practical application: Private and public goodness.

To view the Lectionary 73 readings, click here.

Central Idea: Light of the world

Reading 1 Is 58:7-10

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
If you remove from your midst
oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;
if you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday.

  • It has always been the case for human beings that God wants us to do good. Doing good is the opposite of “oppression, false accusation and malicious speech.” Doing good is generous mercy toward the bodily and spiritual needs of our neighbor.
  • This is part of what Our Lord meant when he said we are to be the light of the world. Anyone who does these good deeds is light for others and God will save such persons:

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R/ The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.

Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice.

He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
An evil report he shall not fear;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.

His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
His justice shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.

  • Jesus Christ is the just man who is the light of the world. His light shines through the darkness for all who are upright, that is, all who want what is right.
  • We are the poor who sin, suffer, and die. This just man has lavishly given us eternal salvation.
  • Human and demonic hatred did everything it could to destroy this just man, but he was steadfast and redeemed us through suffering and death, the enemy’s most powerful weapons.
  • Christ’s victory is why he is in everlasting memory, why his “horn” or generosity is exalted in glory.
  • With God’s grace, everyone who is also just can be generous, giving lavishly to others like Christ.
  • The salt we give to life or the light we shine on others is the riches of goodness Christ gives us. It is shown by the good and generous things we do for others.

Reading 2 1 Cor 2:1-5

When I came to you, brothers and sisters,
proclaiming the mystery of God,
I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you
except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling,
and my message and my proclamation
were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of Spirit and power,
so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom
but on the power of God.

  • The consequences of sin are suffering and death. Jesus Christ has redeemed us from sin through his humble acceptance of suffering and death on the cross.
  • This is the “mystery” or secret of God. You, and I, and human wisdom would likely have chosen overpowering physical strength accompanied by thundering “words of wisdom.”
  • Paul emulates Christ in his humility, presenting his message “in weakness and fear and much trembling,” which gives us a clue about our own best approach to proclaiming the Good News of the mystery of the Redemption.
  • We are to do good for others, even if it costs us suffering and death. That demonstrates God’s Spirit and power.

Gospel Mt 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

  • Salt is vital in preserving food and for making it flavorful. To be the salt of the earth means to make life good for our fellow man.
    • With severity, Our Lord says that if we don’t make life good for others, we are worthless.
  • Light is what makes it possible for us to see. To be the light of the earth means to show people where they are to go. The light we have is the light of Christ. We have a duty to let it be seen.
  • What, then, is this salt and light? Our Lord and the rest of today’s readings make it clear that they are “good deeds.” Other people can recognize this good, see that it comes from God, and glorify God accordingly.

Doctrine: The right to religious freedom and the social duty of Catholics

  •  Individuals and groups have an inherent right to religious freedom, which no government may take away.
    • “Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits” (CCC 2106).
    • “The right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must be recognized and respected as well”(CCC 2107).
  • Divine truth is superior to the human law. We are capable of distinguishing between their demands if they are in conflict.
    • “This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order” (CCC 2106).
  • Part of the religious duty of Catholics is to be the light of the world for others. This means giving to the temporal order a Christian spirit and evangelizing people.
    • “By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward enabling them ‘to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they] live.’ The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in each man the love of the true and the good. It requires [Christians] to make known the worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church.Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies.”(CCC 2105)

Practical application: Private and public goodness

  • Our readings proclaim that the light of Christ is seen in this dark world by our good deeds.
    • These good deeds include upright behavior (“remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech”).
    • They also include speaking the truth with courage (“When I came . . . proclaiming the mystery of God, I . . . resolved to [speak of] nothing . . . except Jesus Christ . . . crucified.”)
    • Finally, they include works of justice and mercy (“Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.”)
  • We have both a right and a duty to behave these ways both in our private dealings with people and in public life.
  • One virtue that is always necessary for carrying out this duty is generosity. Today, another virtue we need is courage in the face of rejection and quite possibly oppression.

 

If you enjoyed this article, get email updates (it’s free)

Leave A Comment...

*


7 + 3 =