Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A
Reflecting on Matthew 5:13-16
Darkness. The ancients experienced it in ways we can’t imagine. My friend Erin told me about a scary twenty minutes of her life in a blackout one evening while she was walking home from work in Oakland, California. She was just a few blocks from her house when the street lights went dark. (This, by the way, is the same city in which my cousin was murdered in daylight as she was getting off the city bus 18 years ago.)
All these years later, Erin remembers that penetrating darkness, how immediately she became uneasy, then jumpy, then terrified as she walked the dark neighborhood streets she knew so well. The lights from an oncoming car brought a few seconds of clarity. Of course! That scary figure up ahead is just the open gate to the neighbor’s yard! But then she was plunged into darkness again as the car sped away, and those familiar streets morphed into sinister hiding places for ugliness and evil.
Some people, as Thomas Merton said, are walking around shining like the sun. Every encounter with them makes you feel warm and loved. They are found everywhere, little rays of light adopting children from Haiti, helping gang members recover their lives, getting up at night with the sick baby, loving that troubled adolescent, joyfully teaching the grandchildren their prayers, sitting with the parent who has long forgotten their name, preaching the Gospel and sometimes using words to do it.
And here’s the best part about being the light of the world: Isaiah says that when you shall call, the Lord will answer.
Who are the people you know who bring light?
In memory of Patty Cronin, a light-bearer
What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).
After spending time savoring last week’s wonderful reflections, I heard today’s gospel and readings in a whole new light. My guess is that all of us easily thought last week of half a dozen mortifying moments we’ve experienced; and I have no doubt that we can all think now of at least TWO dozen people who are bringers of light.
But this gospel poses a more difficult question for me. Christ doesn’t say we will BECOME the salt of the earth or the light of the world. He says that we already ARE those things, just exactly as God has made us. Imagine that. With all our faults and weaknesses, with all that makes us small in our own estimation, Jesus can still look into our hearts and say that our lives — my life — can bring glory to God … if only I have the courage to live my truth. Setting my lamp on a stand to bring light to the whole house is NOT about making a show of virtue or trying for some unreachable standard of holiness. It is simply to know who I am, to love that self with patience and humility, to live authentically, and to recognize and enable that dignity in those around me.
It seems to me that the opposite of being salt for the earth and light for the world is to fall into the trap of false humility, even more than not utilizing the gifts we have been given. So maybe the better question for me this week is to recognize where I bring light in some way to the lives that touch mine each day. To humbly thank God for my gifts. To praise God for working through me.
So this week, I will hold Kathy’s wonderful reminder close to my heart: “God is God, and I am not.” But I will rejoice that God has chosen me to reflect his glory anyway. Because it is Jesus who tells us this is so.
Who is Patty Cronin?
Thank you, Cris. Yes, Patty was my extremely kind, gentle cousin. She was shot in the back while running from an assailant just after she had gotten off a city bus in Oakland. She dropped her purse immediately, but he killed her anyway.
Patty loved Marianne Williamson, and was on her way to her class in A Course in Miracles. It gives me peace when I remember that she was running in the direction of God when she was killed.
How nice of you to ask.
I am so sorry about your cousin. What an awful pain that is in your heart! I love the image you portray of her “running in the direction of God when she was killed.” Bless you for sharing this painful memory with us.
On my way to perfect . . .