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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, February 9, 2014:

First Reading: Isaiah 58:1-9a [9b-12]

Psalm: Psalm 112:1-9 [10]

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 [13-16]

Gospel: Matthew 5:13-20


With the Gospel for this Sunday, we get our mission statement from Jesus. We are to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world. It’s an interesting time of the year to contemplate light. If we're perceptive, we can see that we're getting a bit more light each day.  The sun is already further away from the horizon, arcing higher as it makes its passage through the sky each day.  But for many of us, we're not getting enough light; we're ready for summer and the 12 hours of light that grace that season.

Maybe you read the Gospel for Sunday, and you despair.  Maybe you've felt much more like a flickering candle lately. Maybe you yearn for verses about dimly burning wicks and the assurance that God will not extinguish you for your lackluster burning.

Jesus tells us that we are to let our light shine, but he doesn't tell us how hard it will be some days. As a child, I always thought that once the light was lit, the hard part was over. I would just shine and shine and not hide my light under a bushel and not let Satan pfff it out (as that old song goes).

I did not anticipate the days and months I would feel like I had no light at all, no wick to light, no oil left in the lamp.  I did not anticipate the days that I would wish I had a flicker, a guttering flame.

How do we keep our light from going out? I suspect it's in the various disciplines that we adopt to strengthen our spiritual lives: praying, reading the Bible, reading other spiritual literature, fasting, tithing, charitable giving, working for social justice, practicing gratitude, noticing the wonders of the world.

It's important to realize that we can't keep our lights lit if we see this activity as a once-a-week duty. I suspect that even a once-a-day duty isn't enough. We need to develop disciplines that reorient us throughout the day. We need to build in breaks throughout the day to attend to our wicks and lights.

Maybe we could tie these spiritual disciplines to other breaks we must take during our days.  You've probably done this practice at one point in your life:  we could say a prayer of gratitude before we eat.  We could listen to spiritually uplifting books or music during our commutes or workouts.  Many charitable activities force us to keep to a schedule.

It’s important to remember that we are often the only light of Jesus that many people will see throughout the week. How would our attitude and behavior change if we saw our lives through this prism? We are the instruments and tools that God uses to deliver God’s light into the world. How can we make ourselves better at the task?

Some of us think that we need to lead people to Jesus by talking to them about our faith. But our lives and our actions have already done all the talking before we ever open our mouths. Keep that in mind as you interact with people. Let your life do the shining. Be the salt that adds savor to everyone’s surroundings. Glorify God in this way.

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