Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
If you listen to or watch the media at the moment, you will be conscious of several 'dark' themes, the issues surrounding climate change, the ease with which an epidemic can develop into a pandemic and the general dissatisfaction with politics, where truth and honesty seem disposable necessities in a culture or political squirming, wriggling, mendacity! In all of this religion is not perceived as a force for nobility and honour, rather bitter partisan squabbles. It is the fault of the institution and I am grateful for those who led me to see that what we know as Church is not the Kingdom of God, but a way towards it, and yes it can be part of it, but it cannot be fully equated with it, the Kingdom is eternal, perfect, God's place with all creation in glory!
This is important because it reminds me, as we start the countdown to Great Lent, that Christ's call to discipleship is not about rules and regulations, so much as bringing and spreading light in the darkness. The Prophet Isaiah lists a whole load of things we need to be tackling in our community and in ourselves, as we now begin to prepare for that life-giving fast, which is our preparation to fully embrace the Lord in the festivals of Holy Pascha.
But how do we deal with such things? Firstly there is the removal or eradication of actions that are plainly wrong, things we should not be doing, hypocritical activity that blinds us to truth, how very prescient is this phrase of the Prophet:
"…remove the yoke from among you,
the accusing finger, and malicious speech"(Is 58:9).
This should be self evident, but how much do we ignore this base behaviour? It's there in our society from top to bottom, but it needs to be challenged for at heart it is a rejection of the great commandment to love our neighbour, when in Isaiah's words we should not (be) 'turning (y)our back on (y)our own flesh?'(Is 58:7). How can we change a culture of aggression, incivility, and mendaciousness, the clue is 'yoke', those burdens we place on others, so the cure for that behaviour is to work and live in the light, to lift the load, to shed love in the dark places of hate. Jesus came to complete the Law to bring it to its final illumination as the power of God's burning love, he tells us we are the light of the world, and our mission and ministry is to go out in order that "your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father" (Mt 5:16)
This is really humbling talk, I, We, You are the light, why? Because we are filled with the Light of Christ and the Light of the Spirit, baptised and confirmed, sealed, redeemed, enlightened always, and we dance that dance of love with the Trinity, drawn ever into their love. That is the only known antidote for the darkness of evil, light, and our light together in Christ's!
Points for Prayer
St Symeon the New Theologian - From Beatitudes on the Light
Blessed is the one who has seen the light of the world take form within themself, for they, having Christ as an embryo within, shall be reckoned His mother, as He Himself Who does not lie has promised, saying: "Here are my mother and brothers and friends." Who? "Those who hear the word of God and do it". So those who do not keep His commandments deprive themselves voluntarily of so great a grace, because the thing was and is and will be possible, and has happened and happens and will happen for all who fulfill His ordinances.
Julian of Norwich - Showings
Our faith is a light, naturally coming from our endless day that is our father, God; in which light our mother, Christ, and our good lord, the holy ghost, lead us in this mortal life . . .And at the end of woe, suddenly our eye shall be opened, and in clearness of sight our light shall be full, which light is God our maker, father and holy ghost in Christ Jesus our saviour. Thus I saw and understood that our faith is our light in our night, which light is God, our endless day.
Hildegarde of Bingen
"I am the fiery life of the essence of God; I am the flame above the beauty in the fields; I shine in the waters; I burn in the sun, the moon, and the stars. And with the airy wind, I quicken all things vitally by an unseen, all-sustaining life."
Fr Robin is an Eastern Rite Catholic Chaplain for Melkites in the UK. He is also an Ecumenical Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.
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