Thursday, 2 February 2017

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A


Isaiah 58:7-10; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-16
A while ago I read of a person who blamed the Catholic Church (that's you and me) for the lack of peace in the world.

He claimed that heaven had many times promised peace to the world if prayer and penances were offered for the sins of the world. These promises, this person said, were made to Catholics and only to Catholics, and since there was still no peace it was obviously their fault.

Now while you are thinking about this you might recall the words of Pope St Pius V who said: All the evil in the world is due to lukewarm Catholics.

And while you're thinking of that you might notice that Jesus in the gospel today exclusively directs his words to one special group of people: his disciples (again, that's us).

It was to 'his disciples' that Jesus said: You are the salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world.

As disciples of the Master we can only take these words seriously. They are spoken to us, they are for us, they are about us. If we don't take these words seriously can we continue to call ourselves disciples? Does a disciple ignore his Master?

Listen again to the words of the Entrance Antiphon of today's Mass: O come, let us worship God and bow low before the God who made us, for he is the Lord our God.

Come ... worship ... bow low. It would be a cruel kind of hypocrisy to say these words but not mean them, to bow low before Jesus but then to ignore his words. That would be a deception which condemns rather than saves.

A disciple is called to be all that the Master is. When Jesus describes us as 'salt of the earth' and 'light of the world' he is not giving us a compliment; he is giving us a vocation, a mission, a responsibility which carries with it serious penalties for failure.

And so now comes the interesting part. How? How do we become like the Master?

There are many answers to this question but all of them might be reduced to this simple, easy, do-able, enticing answer: Spend time with him. This is what God himself wants from us.

The Lord does not need our talents or our gifts however extraordinary and impressive they might be. They are all his anyway. He gave them to us. And he has far more talented and gifted people than us to use for the building up of his kingdom.

Nor does the Lord need our money. The Church needs your money but God doesn't because God does not go shopping. He has no bank account, no fixed deposits, no stocks and shares. Besides, there are people richer and more generous than we are who are ready to give money.

All God needs is our time – your time and my time – particularly my time. I don't know about you but my time is one of my prized possessions. I love my time. My time lets me do all the things I want and so, perhaps selfishly, I prefer to have it all.

No one can give God my time but me and it's the one thing he wants from me. Like all my friends God enjoys my company but more than this, God needs my time if he is to be able to change me – to make me into that disciple we were talking about before.

Just as the sun needs my time to make me tanned, and the fire needs my time to make me warm, so, like a heart surgeon, God needs my time to operate on me.

One last question remains and it's a good question: How much of my time does God want? And the answer is, naturally, as much as you want to give him. It depends on how much work needs doing and how much work you want him to do on you.

When you come to think of it, this question of giving time to God is a great test of our desire for him. Some will say they have no time, they are too busy. Others will make time for God, every day. So perhaps the only real answer to the question – How much time should I give God? – is really: Only you can decide - but beware of the trap of confusing 'I don't have time' with 'I don't want to'.

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