Two sisters spent the day fighting. That evening they prepared for bed, still mad at each other. As usual, each knelt by the side of her bed for their prayers. "Dear God," the 8-year-old began, "Bless Daddy and Mommy, bless our cat and dog." Then she stopped. Her mother gently prodded, "Didn’t you forget somebody?" She glared across the bed at her 6-year-old sister and added, "And, oh yes, God, bless my ex-sister."
We just celebrated Valentine’s Day. I am sure everybody talked about and celebrated lots of LOVE. Today’s readings talk about LOVE. It challenges us to choose freely and wisely in order to observe the laws given us by a loving and caring God.
Ben Sira, the author says in the Book of Sirach, tells us that we are engulfed with the mercy and love of God. He is all around us and in us. He knows what is going on within us. He gives us a choice: choose Him or reject Him. If we choose Him, we live. If we reject Him, we die. God has given the power to choose.
The Gospel is a continuation of last Sunday. Gospel of Matthew chapter five started with Sermon on the Mount. Today’s Gospel starts with a statement “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill…whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”
When evangelist wrote the Gospel, his audience was the Jewish converts. Jews had 613 laws and sub laws. Matthew tells them, Jesus came to bring the old law to its natural fulfillment in the new. In another way he says, he came to complete the law. They knew the Ten Commandments. Jesus enhances them and invites them and us to integrate law and love together. Another dimension of Jesus teaching in the Gospel is an invitation to clean up our inner thoughts, so the external actions will be more profound and meaningful. In other words, Jesus tells us to go deeper than just avoiding occasions of sin. They tell us that God sees what is going on within us. We have to do all we can to be sure that we treasure His presence within us.
We are sons and daughters of God. Every person has dignity. Every one of us is chosen by God. We cannot sacrifice the freedom we have in Jesus Christ to the evil of the world. We cannot allow ourselves to be enslaved by sin. Jesus came to free us from sin. His deepest love is expressed on the Cross- a sacrificial love.
Someone asked Mother Teresa, "What will we be judged on?" She responded, "I believe that when we die and the time comes for us to be judged, God will not ask how many good things we did in our lives, but only with how much love we did them."
Anointing During the Mass: Pope John Paul II designated February 11th Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, as World Day of the Sick, “a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one’s suffering and reminding us to see in our sick brothers and sisters the face of Christ who, by suffering, dying and rising, achieved the salvation of humankind”. In our cluster, we will be praying for people who are sick among us and also all those who work in the field of Health Care on the weekend of February 22/23, 2020. At these Masses, there will an opportunity to receive the anointing of the Sick. Thank you.
Historians today consider Abraham Lincoln to be one of the greatest, presidents of this country. However, that greatness was not evident to all during his lifetime. Lincoln received a large amount of bitter – and often contradictory – criticism.
To his critics, Lincoln told a story about a traveler who got caught in a terrible thunderstorm. The night was totally dark and the flashes of lightning provided the only clues to the path. One bolt struck quite close and the crash of thunder brought the man down to his knees. He was not a praying man, but he made a short fervent (eager) petition, “Oh Lord! If it’s all the same to you, give me a little more light and a little less noise.”
All of us can identify with that prayer. We live in a world of a lot of noise. It can sometimes confuse and disorient us. What we need is less noise and a bit more light. Today’s first reading, as well as the Gospel, tells us how we are to be light and salt to the wider world.
The Book of Prophet Isaiah is divided into three sections. Today’s reading is from the third section of Isaiah which witnesses the struggle and hope for blessing of the post-Babylonian exilic community. They are back in the homeland. Their efforts to survive created a deep division in the community. It was the survival of the strongest, and the poor and homeless were ignored. In this contest prophet Isaiah told them to “share our bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and homeless, and clothe the naked. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). But elsewhere in John 8:12 Jesus says of himself, “I am the light of the world.” Today’s Gospel is a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount. In the Old Testament Moses gave Ten Commandments in the Old Testaments. In the New Testament Jesus gave a new law at the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is talking about the flesh and blood embodiment of the light. As long as he is physically present in the world he is the light of the world, but when he is no longer physically present his followers now assume the role of being the light of the world.
As a light, we are called to show the way. Without light, we bump into each other and fall into the ditch. But light says: “Here is the road, take it; here is danger, avoid it.” Light illumines and reveals it. Without light and salt, the world would be in very bad shape, uninteresting and impossible to live in. With light and salt, the world becomes a safer and better place. It is our duty as Christians to make the world a better place.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta did all she had done out of love and it brightened the whole world. It was this love that moved people so deeply. Commenting on this point, former British TV star Malcolm Muggeridge said in effect: “I can’t tell you how much I owe to Mother Teresa. She showed me Christianity in action. She showed me love in action. She showed me how the love one person can start a tidal wave that can spread across the world.”
Indeed Mother Teresa shows how can be the light of the world. Mother Teresa didn’t set out to pare her light before people. She simply set out to love. And in loving, she became ‘a light for the whole world’.