Daily Reflection
February 10th, 2002
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Isaiah 58:7-10
Psalm 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Matthew 5:13-16

The theme of light has been a part of the past five out of six liturgies beginning with Epiphany.  Today’s liturgy, the last Ordinary Sunday until next June, ends this series of the light motif. We can say that we are beginning to see the Light.

The Light of course is Jesus of Whom the prophets foretell.  Jesus has come to fulfill those prophecies and also our human and individual need for being led out of darkness.  To “educate” is literally “to lead out”, and Jesus is presented, not only as savior, but the One Who teaches, or enlightens.

What we hear in today’s First Reading is a part of an instruction about what true fasting is according to the Lord. Isaiah speaks the word to God’s people teaching them about what pleases the Lord.  Instead of hanging their heads and lying on sackcloths to atone for sins, they are to do some things by which they bring about the Justice of God among the people.

Private words and individual penance’s are to be replaced by acts of caring for the poor, afflicted, naked and homeless.  It is when these actions are done flowing from the heart that God will then break through the gloom of sin and its effects.  It is through sin that darkness prevails and because there is no such thing as “private sin”, there are the results of communal break up and social disturbance.  God is educating the people about true atonement which includes being at-one with God and God’s family members. 
In the Gospel, we hear Matthew’s continuation of Jesus’ teaching on the Mount.  He has just told them what it is to be blest or happy on this earth including when they are persecuted, spoken ill of, and when they grieve. What we hear today is His leading them out of the ignorance about who they are.  Their identity does not settle them into isolated self-satisfaction.  As “salt” and as “light” they are truly themselves when they are in contact outside themselves.  Salt can lose its flavor by not being a seasoning.  Light is not light if it cannot be seen and illumine its surroundings. 

Jesus, Who has been baptized to go public, is now beginning the first Rite of Christian Initiation for His disciples.  Jesus knows Himself to be the Light; His actions are meant to be seen and His words meant to be heard.  He begins educating His followers about their participation in His Light which they are to share as salt and light are meant to be spread around.

This coming Wednesday we begin the forty-day preparation for our Easter renewal.  We join those who are preparing to enter the Christian Community through their Baptisms and Confirmations.  These newcomers are being “educated” about how we, His disciples, live His teachings.  At least they are learning how we are supposed to have been living them.  We have these days to recover from the effects of our being saltless and lightless. 

One form of fasting this Lent, to which we are encouraged today, is fasting from privacy.  We are to learn the difference between hiding and sheltering.  A Prevent Defense not only prevents our being injured, but also prevents His Light from reaching others.  Sheltering is inclusive.  It takes in, welcomes and reveals the embrace of God.

We are invited to fast from consuming which is different from distributing.  We have many ways of feeding the various aspects of our lives.  We can fast from neglecting those hungry aspects in others.  Our “bread” is not merely of wheat, but of mind, heart, and spirit.  There is a fasting from talking which can satisfy the hunger in others to be heard.

Jesus’ teaching always moves me and thee to become a "we."  There is a place of course for “Private Prayer”, but sooner or later that form of intimacy impregnates us to give Him new flesh and spirit.  Prayer will result in our somehow being reminded of our identity in Him, Who came to make us His brothers and sisters.  Fasting from fearful isolation, inferiority of spirit, and self-rejecting memories will give such Easter Life to us that we will flavor the lives of others and give His Light for their journeys. 

Lent will seem a lot shorter and more spring-like, if we know how to fast and from what. 

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