Sunday, 5 February 2023 : Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday all of us are reminded of the responsibilities and the calling which all of us as Christians are called to do in our lives. Each and every one of us as the disciples and followers of the Lord are expected to be good, committed, faithful and active servants and followers of God, in that each one of us are always active in living our lives with faith, practicing whatever we believe in with sincerity and devotion at all times. We cannot be true Christians unless our actions and dealings, works and interactions, words and all that we do are in alignment with the path and the way that the Lord has shown us. Otherwise, if we do not do or say or act as how we profess to believe in God, we are no better than hypocrites, and we may even cause scandal for our faith and besmirch the Holy Name of God.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the Lord speaking to His people and calling upon them all through Isaiah to do what is right and just, as He has taught and shown them through His many messengers and prophets. The Lord wanted all of them to live worthily of Him, by showing love to one another and to show compassion on the poor and the weak, to be merciful and just in their way of life and actions, as examples to one another so that more and more hopefully may come to believe in the Lord as well, through our exemplary lives and role models. This can only be achieved if we learn to resist the temptations of our desires for selfish pleasures and wants in life, and if we can learn to put God at the forefront and centre of our whole lives and existence, and if we can truly dedicate ourselves to the service of God and to do what He has told us to do, then surely we will have lived our lives worthily of the Lord.

In our second reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful people of God in the city of Corinth, in which St. Paul told the people about his perseverance in proclaiming the message of God’s truth and Good News in their midst, resisting the temptations of worldly power and glory, and instead, proclaiming fearlessly about the Crucified Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, to an audience that were sometimes lukewarm and at times even hostile against his efforts. Nonetheless, the Apostle continued to labour hard and spent a lot of effort and time to glorify God and to proclaim Him, which eventually bore much fruits as more and more people came to believe in the Lord through the efforts that St. Paul had put into place in proclaiming the Gospels of Christ.

He was doing what the Lord Jesus Himself had spoken about in our Gospel passage today, as we recall in that passage the words of the parable of the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The Lord Jesus spoke of this parable to His disciples comparing them all to the all-important salt and light, two commodities that are still important and crucial today, but which were even more indispensable and important back then. For without salt and light, the world at the time of the Lord Jesus cannot operate much, as salt and light both played very important roles in the communities of the people, in everyone’s homes and in many activities involving daily living and actions, in work and more things, more than what we may need of those two things today, that is salt and light in our lives.

First of all, salt is used as an important flavouring agent, which is necessary to impart taste and flavour to food which could usually be rather bland tasteless. Salt is also important for the body in order to replenish certain ions and substances that our bodies require in order to function properly. While salt may be easily available these days and many even have problems of excessive consumption of salt, back then, many people did not even have steady supply of salt, as salt production was rather difficult, labour intensive and tightly controlled by the state back then, and without modern technologies that allowed mass production of salt, salt became a rather expensive commodity that was widely sought and desired, and was truly a precious item back then. Salt was also used in the preservation of food, which was important in the era before the advent of effective refrigeration as is present in our world today.

Meanwhile, light was also something very important as although light is abundant from the Sun during the daytime, but at night time, light was often lacking, as even the full brightness of the Full Moon and the stars of the sky paled in comparison with the brightness of the Sun. Night time was therefore often dark, particularly during the time when the Moon was not visible. The roads and the areas outside towns and villages were often very dark and treacherous, filled with all sorts of wild animals and predators, and nobody dared to travel alone or in the dark without the guidance of any light, in the form of lanterns and torches, which could provide assurance and protection for anyone who wished to travel in the dark times. Otherwise, people would rather wait until the morning before they continued to travel. And this was the reality of a world before the advent of electricity and easily available lighting from electricity, a world that we may not be truly familiar with.

Hence, imagine just how useless it is for salt to lose its taste and flavour, its saltiness and hence the ability to give flavour and to prevent food from spoiling and becoming bad. How useless and pointless it is also therefore for light to be hidden without been used to dispel the darkness wherever they are needed, for this light to be hidden and not used as a source of inspiration, hope and assurance, in the times of darkness. What the Lord wanted to say to us in providing this parable to us all through His disciples is that, our lives have to be meaningful, virtuous, righteous, good and just, filled with the virtues and righteousness of God, with Christian values and goodness, with all the things that the Lord Himself has shown and taught us to do. However, many of us as Christians are still ignorant of this calling and this mission which each and every one of us have in this life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we are therefore called and reminded yet again by the Lord to be active in living our Christian lives, full of commitment and devotion to God, and full of the sincerity and the desire to serve the Lord, and to do what He Himself has taught us to do, and to make it such that our every words and actions in our respective lives truly become great sources of inspiration and good examples for others to follow, just like the salt of the earth and light of the world. God has provided each and every one of us with so many distinct and unique sets of gifts, talents, abilities, blessings and opportunities, giving us many chances to make good use of them for everyone’s benefits and for the greater glory of God. Now the question is, are we willing to embrace God’s call and are we willing to follow Him and walk in His path, faithfully and with conviction?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all hence help one another to remain firm in faith and to be ever more active in reaching out to our fellow men and women, in our respective communities and in whatever areas that we are able to contribute in. Let us no longer be ignorant of the many opportunities and chances that God had provided us in being able to live up to our Christian mission and calling. Like the Apostles, St. Paul and many other holy men and women of God, let us all truly be the flavourful salt of the earth and the ever wonderful light of the world, proclaiming the love and truth of God, in our daily living, in our every words, actions and deeds, at all times. May God be with us all and may He bless us all in our every good works and endeavours, as salt of the earth and light of the world. Amen.

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