09 February, 2020. 5th Sunday, Year A

Be like Salt and Light. Issues of injustice and inequality challenge our sense of decency and right, such as long-term poverty, unemployment and homelessness. The Lord invites us to solidarity with people in dire need.

1st Reading: Isaiah 58:7-10

To be right with God we must share with the hungry and the poor

[What is a fast day acceptable to the Lord?] Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, 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 the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

Responsorial: Psalm 111:4-9

Response: A light rises in the darkness for the upright

They are a light in the darkness for the upright:
they are generous, merciful and just.
The good person takes pity and lends,
they behave themselves with honour.

The just person will never waver:
they will be remembered for ever.
They have no fear of evil news;
with a firm heart they trust in the Lord.

With a steadfast heart they will not fear;
open-handed, they give to the poor;
their justice stands firm for ever.
Their heads will be raised in glory.

2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

We are saved by the cross of Christ, not by our own merits

When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Gospel: Matthew 5:13-16

Called to be salt of the earth and light of the world

Jesus said to his disciples,
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp-stand and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”


May your words, O Lord be on my lips and in my heart. May they guide me on life’s journey and keep me near to you.

Fruit of a loving heart

Around the same time that Isaiah was reviving a living faith among the people in Jerusalem, his contemporary up in northern Israel, the prophet Amos, was expressing his fierce indignation about the plight of the poor and needy, who were being denied justice in the courts (Amos 5:7, 10, 12, 15) and whose goods were confiscated (5:11). In his turn, Isaiah also makes an impassioned cry for social justice. His sense of fairness and sharing comes from his deep sense that God’s creativity and glory fills the whole earth (Isa 6:3). The divine presence fills not only the temple  but the whole of creation. Yahweh desires human beings to make justice flourish on the earth. To buttress his appeal, Isaiah warns of a coming day of judgment, because of the inhumanity of the great and the powerful towards the weak, poor and helpless.

His people, unfortunately, seemed to prefer formal religion to honesty and justice. Just as Isaiah felt personally cleansed through the burning coal scorching his lips, his people needs cleansing too. They need to change their behaviour, to practice a more honest kind of religion (Isa 1:16-17). Only if they sincerely try to practice justice can their worship mean anything. Isaiah ends with the promise: “if you feed the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, your light shall rise in the darkness..” (58:10.) Sharing and justice are essential, if we are to please our God.

In calling his people to conversion, John the Baptist echoed the teaching of Isaiah when he said, “Whoever has two coats must share with whoever has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Jesus, too, chose words from Isaiah about mercy and compassion, as his own manifesto. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4: 17-19; Isaiah 61:1)

In today’s Gospel he says “let your light shine before others..” But how can we reconcile “letting our light shine” with the fact that Jesus spent most of his own life quietly in Nazareth, as the son of the carpenter. What Jesus practised at Nazareth was fidelity to the ordinary, the daily routine, which requires its own kind of courage. What sets him apart was anchoring his whole life in God, to let the Father be the guiding force in his life.

The quiet practice of virtue was the hallmark of the saints, who never published their holiness, but just tried to remain close to God, in a spirit of “loving attentive expectancy,” as St John of the Cross put it. This spirit marked the life of saint Therese of Lisieux, who died at the age of 24, after living as an enclosed nun from her teenage years. Some of the other nuns thought that Therese had achieved nothing at all in her short life. Yet within a generation, this young nun who had never left her convent was proclaimed Patroness of the Foreign Missions. Even from her cloister she let her light shone out. Reflecting on the three virtues that last, faith, hope and love, Therese saw prayerful love as her special mission in life. “In the heart of the Church,” she said, “I shall be love.” And from that loving spirit the grace of God was richly channeled out to the missionary world.

Bunphrionsabal dár gcreideamh

Tá an méid a deir Pól faoi rúndiamhair Dé agus na croise mar bhunphrionsabal dár gcreideamh fíor i gcónaí. Bíodh go bhfuil glactha ag saol an lae inniu le mórán de thuiscint agus de theagasc na Biáide agus den tSeanmóir ar an Sliabh, tá gnéithe den “Eagnaíocht”, den Enlightenment, nach féidir glacadh leo. Agus tá an “chumhacht” sin a thug an creideamh i gCríost agus a Chrois an chéaduair ag feidhmiú i gcónaí, ach ní mór do chreidmhigh bheith nascaithe le Críost tríd an Spiorad Naomh trí urnaí agus dheabhóid. (Máirtín Mac Conmara)


  1. Seamus Ahearne says:



    Simeon and Anna elbowed the Beatitudes out of the way, last weekend. Our Gospel (for Sunday) is a continuation and a variation on the theme. Light and Salt. A taste. A whiff. A suggestion. A soupcon. A touch. A whisper. A memory. Simeon and Anna. They are everywhere. Mighty. Wonderful. Inspirational. Living Saints. We are blessed. I don’t have to look for Saints with Halos. Real saints are plentiful and everywhere. The characters of life, shine the torch of God, into the dreary shadows of daily life. They live the Beatitudes. They bring the laughter of God, to us all. They bring a sense of proportion to everything. I meet them in the most unlikely places.


    The light. My grandmother refused electricity because it was too dangerous. The candle and the oil lamp wasn’t. The Tilly lamp. The Storm lamp. The Carbide lamp. My mother used to take her bike on all kinds of detours, in Portlaw, to avoid the local guard – she had no light (which happened often). She would tell him that, when she met him.


    Brigid was celebrated with the crosses made and the story being told. The donations (for the crosses). for Br Kevin’s place. The marvellous generosity of people. I saw the Cherry Blossoms and the daffodils in the way back Dean’s Grange. Spring was having a go at Winter. The Communion classes were at Mass. They were delightful. One little girl was reported as saying: “That was the best Mass ever” and then she said: “It was my first Mass ever.” Never mind the frequency or not, of these going to Mass; something bigger than ourselves was happening. We were touched by the presence of the children, staff and many parents. The Meetings with the PPC and the Parish Team. Where shocked and shattered members were hurting deeply, at decisions made about the Parish and the methods involved. But the Light of sharing, honesty and goodness was Godly. Real heart and Communion was obvious. I couldn’t have been more proud of them even in the depths of sadness. (And more emotional/hurting). Funerals. Where we were/are privileged to be invited totally into the history of a family and a person – sacred and humbling.


    A Month’s mind with the School Staff where the sudden death of a school colleague was remembered. Where words were impossible and questions were volcanic. Where we were very small and the whys had no answer. And yet where something of a Bigger God appeared. A Sick Call where the family couldn’t stop the thanking and yet where we only feel the humble holiness of being with a family at this Sacred time. The daily rambling around – meeting people everywhere (shops, school gates. Houses, phones) and the banter of life continuing. Some of us don’t want to tell any outsider of what we have here in case they might want to move us on! Only those who don’t know or have never lived such a life; could think of quashing our way of life! Our everyday chatter at Church, where some might hear noise (and irreverence) but where we catch light and taste. We came to Thursday when Dermot said that is was time to kill off David as we were fed up with him. And then David invades Friday once more. Dermot wasn’t impressed.


    Trump is found not guilty. Everyone is certain of their own views. None can see the sense of any argument from the other side. Trump is crude and stupid. He continues to be. But he was voted in and probably will be. There is no evidence of light or taste. Our own Election concludes. However it will turn out. Some of us are very conflicted. We have seen the carry-on of our local politicians who should know much better (some very high profile ones) who ruined the option of a local Primary Care Unit. Who can we vote for? But compared to what we have seen in the US and in the UK – we must admire their sincerity and their effort (some of the time if not most of the time)!


    The Church of the Assumption (as reported on Morning Ireland) has got final Planning Permission – for Demolition and a Rebuild. The Church is actually called The Church of the Annunciation. The dangerous question lurks around – why not see the demolition as a serious time of Reflection of what we need to demolish in Church outlook and how we might rebuild? Bricks and cement is easy but the rest is very difficult. The Diocese has hard questions to look at. Light and Taste? Future.


    Finally, when I return to the house at night, I sometimes run the remote through the Channels. To catch something that might quieten my mind and prepare me for sleep. I have got RTE back which I didn’t have for years but I couldn’t watch the Debates. If I catch Grand Designs, I am pleased. I always love to see the adventure and imaginative stretch involved in creating something new and different. The very poetry lights up my heart. I caught Mary Beard the other evening. She took us on a tour of nudes. I rather liked the idea. I believe Mary is going to appear herself as a nude model. Physical nudity is simple and easy. The striptease of our inner life is much more difficult. That type of Communion is essential in our Church life. The spontaneity and honesty I meet every day here is more precious and more sacred than anything could be seen or presented on TV by Mary. What kind of Church can we create, where people can tell their own story properly? I have seen that light this week. And I am moved.

    Seamus Ahearne osa

  2. Thara Benedicta says:

    Key message:

    True fasting is to become the brand ambassador of our Lord Jesus Christ


    The story in the first reading goes like this:
    The people had been fasting for quite some time and they feel that God has not heard their prayers. God questions back,
    “Do you think covering in sack cloth, sitting in ashes, acting as though having a repentant act is fasting?
    Give bread to the hungry, shelter for the homeless, cover for the naked and love for your family members and take care of them.
    Then I will take care of you.”
    God tells them that they were fasting without fixing their lives. So it’s ineffective. True fasting with right motives will surely touch heart of God.

    Today’s Gospel reading “You are the salt of the earth, light of the world. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
    The greatest privilege as Christian for all of us is to know the true God. God wants Himself to be preached to all who do not really know Him. He wants to show His true love to everyone so that everyone will experience his true love. People have heard about God’s love. But many have not experienced His love. So he is searching for ambassadors of His love to the entire human race. The task which angels and saints in Heaven are longing to do, but are waiting to help us to do the same.

    In the second reading, we can see the heart of Paul, the ambassador of God. He says that he does not want to know anything apart from Christ Jesus. His only thought, desire, motive is to explain and share Christ Jesus with everyone.
    There is a special job for each of us living in these moments – to be the brand ambassadors of God’s love to the suffering humanity.

    Tips for practicing the role of brand ambassador for Lord Jesus:
    When Saint Don Bosco was a young boy, he used to share his white bread in school with a very poor boy who used to have only brown bread for lunch. In course of time, the poor boy, learnt Christ from Don Bosco’s life and became a Christian.
    People out in the world do not open a bible and read to know about Christ. We are the books that they read. If we imitate Christ in our lives, they will easily understand and accept Christ. If our lives do not display the love of Christ, then we are not turning their faces towards Christ.

    The first reading outlines the methods of being the brand ambassador for God –
    Feeding the poor, shelter the homeless, cover the naked, love your family…
    Apart from these good procedures, we can be the brand ambassadors in our daily chores of life.
    1. Trust God in all your problems. Do not worry about them. A sad face does not represent God’s glory. Only a happy, energetic person with a smile on his face will reveal God’s glory.
    Your attitude during your suffering will speak loudly rather than your attitude during joyous times.
    2. Enlighten someone’s day by appreciating them.
    3. When you are in authority, instead of providing a feedback infront of others, discuss with the persons individually.
    4. If people are manipulative, there are ways for you to be manipulative and your self-will forces you to be manipulative, don’t do that. Be clean in your ways as God says you to be clean.
    If you are asked to give feedback about a person who has hurt you, to his manager, just because he has hurt you terribly, do not enlarge on the little wrong things he has done and report to him. God will magnify you.
    5. If someone hurts you voluntarily, do not be bitter and open door for the pain to continue. Bitterness is a pain. It will easily steal your pain and joy. Treat him right even if it seems unfair.
    6. If you are tired and hurting, and your child asks for your help in his project or tries to explain something, do not ignore him. Go above your feelings and help him.
    7. If you have been rude to someone, apologise to the person.
    8. When you are facing storms in your personal life, trust God and help someone else. This will enable people speak about you, ‘His God is giving him strength’.
    9. Take care of the needy people in your neighborhood – by giving food, clothing, money for medical expenses and so on..
    10. Never say ‘No’ to someone in need when you can say ‘Yes’

    Will you be the brand ambassador whom God is searching for?

  3. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    John Pilch offers some cultural background to the sayings in the Gospel reading: https://liturgy.slu.edu/5OrdA020920/theword_cultural.html.
    He writes of salt being used as a catalyst in a clay (earth) oven.
    My parents would sometimes sprinkle sugar on the open fire when it was dull; it caused it to blaze up. The salt must have been used for a similar purpose.
    Pilch refers to the use of dried dung as fuel for the fire and oven. It was also used in parts of Ireland as a substitute fuel for the fire, although sometimes seen as an indication of poverty. Words in Irish for it are “buacharán” and “bóithreán.” (Dineen)
    The prologue to John (1:9) applies the image of light to Jesus, echoing the first act of creation: Let there be light! He repeats it in 8:12 and 12:46. Matthew applies it to us as the disciples of Jesus.

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