February 9, 2020 — Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s readings are part pep talk and part marching orders for us as Christian stewards. They offer wonderfully clear guidance on what matters most to God in the way we prioritize our lives and the way He intends for us to use the gifts He has given us.
The first reading, from the prophet Isaiah, gives us very straightforward instructions: “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.” The Lord gives no wiggle room here — caring for our brothers and sisters in need is a “must do” for the Christian steward. Note, too, that these instructions require action — to share, to shelter, to clothe, and to hang in there with your family members, even the demanding ones.
But note, too, how generous our God is to us when we do these things. “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn and your wound shall quickly be healed… Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer… Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.” Our gracious God commands us to place a high priority on serving the needs of others because He has created us for just this purpose. He knows that the more we give ourselves away, the more we will find ourselves — and “light shall rise” for us in the form of more of His grace in our lives and more of His joy and His peace in our hearts. This is the beauty of a stewardship way of life.
Our second reading, from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, reassures us that we need not worry too much about our personal skill set in answering this call from the Lord to serve — for it is the Lord Himself who will act through us if we step forward in faith. Paul says of himself, and we can take his words to heart, “I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom… I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling… so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.” Our weakness is no obstacle for God — He uses even our weaknesses to show His glory if we simply cooperate with Him. This should be an encouragement for those moments when we don’t feel qualified to do all that God is calling us to do.
Our Gospel passage, from Matthew, sends us out on our stewardship way with a bang as Jesus declares to us, His disciples, that we are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” But, He adds, salt no longer gives flavor if allowed to go stale, and light cannot bring its blessed brightness if left hidden. Therefore we must act! We must live our lives so that others will see the things that we do — the ways that we serve others, care for the vulnerable, prioritize our family relationships and, above all, our love for God — and then give Him glory.
This is the stewardship way of life. Let’s give it our all!