February 5, 2017
by Mary Lee Brock
Creighton University's Werner Institute
click here for photo and information about the writer

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 73

Isaiah 58:7-10
Ps 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
1 Corinthinas 2:1-5
Matthew 5:13-16

Praying Ordinary Time

Sixty-one years ago today my parents were married at St Anthony Padua parish in Brooklyn, New York.  We grew up near my father’s hometown in South Dakota so  my parents’ wedding pictures depicted a neighborhood much different than ours and one we would visit during summer vacations.  Imagine my delight when my older daughter who is doing a year of service with the Mercy Volunteer Corp was assigned to live in the neighborhood adjacent to where my mother grew up.   My daughter can attend Mass in the very church where my parents were married.  This connection across the generations is a true comfort.

A commitment to service comes to mind when I pray with today’s readings.   In a reflection about her service my daughter spoke about the challenge of social justice is answering the “now what” question.   Last week we listened to Jesus preach the Beatitudes.  Today’s first reading Isaiah echoes that message. Generally I feel inspired by those powerful words, but I was left with the feeling of “now what” especially as the needs in our world are so great.  My usual optimistic outlook is being overwhelmed with despair about the actions of government.  In the November election my state reinstituted the death penalty.  The chaos around immigration is devastating to families.  Neighbors are worried about their next meal, care for their children, our environment.

Paul in his letter to the Corinthians reminds me that answering the “now what” question for me is something I cannot do alone as he states:  I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.  My despair is validated and I feel a sense of relief to hear that I cannot do this alone but I must rely on the power of God. 

The gospel today from Matthew Jesus helps us answer the “now what” question.  We are the salt of the earth; we are the light of the world.  This is responsibility and an opportunity.  Jesus tells his disciples and us:  Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.  Jesus is compelling me to action.  It is not right to sit in despair as I must take action.  And that action must be guided by God.

My prayer today is to ask for support and guidance from God on how I can be the light of the world.  The light shining on my good deeds will be my “now what.”  I pray for the strength to be present to others… those who share my world view and those who do not.   I pray for the wisdom to speak for those who do not have a place at the table.  I ask for energy to look for systemic injustice and advocate for change.  I pray to seek opportunities to fulfill the call of the Beatitudes. 

When I reflect upon the lives of my parents who were devoted to being educators, involved community members and loving parents I hear the voice of God.  When I learn about my daughter sharing joys and tears with the vulnerable children and mothers she works with I hear the voice of God.   I am grateful for the models of my parents and my daughter to inspire me.  What a legacy!

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