Watching for the morning of February 9
The Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
Righteous deeds, faithfulness, good works, a life in harmony with the mission of God – the call to live the reign of God continues to dominate the readings for this Sunday. Jesus declares that we are to be salt and light in the world. Our righteousness must exceed that of the religious leaders, for not the least stroke of a letter in God’s Torah/law/teaching will pass away before that day when all things are made new.
God speaks through the prophet Isaiah to reveal that the repentant fasting of the community is empty and self-serving ritual, not the justice, release of debtors, feeding of the hungry and sheltering the homeless that is the true worship of God. So, too, the psalmist describes the live of the righteous as gracious, merciful, just and generous to the poor. And while Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is not chosen to match the Gospel reading, it also concerns the hidden wisdom revealed in Christ of God’s purpose for the world. Fidelity to God is not a path to personal prosperity and divine help for things beyond our control – it is both confident trust and active participation in God’s healing of the world.
The Prayer for February 9, 2014
you have appointed your people to be in the world
as salt which preserves and as light which illumines the darkness.
Fill us with your Holy Spirit, and shape our lives by your Word,
|that through lives of faith, hope and love
we may bear witness to your reign.
The Texts for February 9, 2014
First Reading: Isaiah 58:1-12
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” – In the hardscrabble life after the return from Exile, God confronts the complaint of the people that God has not answered their prayers by challenging the goal of those prayers. They have sought advantage for themselves rather than to live God’s justice and mercy.
Psalmody: Psalm 112:1-10
“Happy are those who fear the Lord, who greatly delight in his commandments.” – A description of the righteous who rest securely in God and the blessing they bring to the world, giving freely to the poor and conducting “their affairs with justice.”
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-12
“We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.” – Paul’s message to the Corinthians was not dressed in the skills of rhetoric and human wisdom, but “a demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” Yet there is a wisdom in this message: the wisdom revealed by the Spirit regarding God’s work and purpose in the world.
Gospel: Matthew 5:13-20
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” – Comparing his followers with salt and light, Jesus summons the community of Israel (and his disciples) back to their calling as the medium through which God brings blessing/healing to the world.