Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A-2011

From Vincentian Encyclopedia
It is too little … for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations (Is. 49:6—NAB)

Attests Mt. 7:28-29: “When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”

It is because Jesus’ teaching is backed up by deeds. He does not only go around teaching but also curing every disease and illness among the people (Mt. 4:23; Acts 10:38). As St. Vincent de Paul keeps repeating, Jesus practices first and then teaches. Jesus, accordingly, first personifies being salt of the earth and the light of the world, and then he declares his followers to be so.

So it is Jesus himself who guarantees the truth and certainty of his teaching. His teaching should not really be accepted or rejected on the basis of his followers’ good or bad behavior. “[T]he truth of Christ does not rise or fall on the claims of his professed followers, but on Jesus himself” [1]. He is the one destined for the fall and rise of many and to be a sign of contradiction that exposes the thoughts of many hearts (Lk. 2:34-35).

There is no lack of Christians, of course, who fall rather than rise. Even the Church acknowledges that believers sometimes conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion [2]. We fail to preserve, restore, season or bring in, so to speak, enough salary to survive. We do not serve as light whose raison d’être is none other than to enlighten. As salt cannot but be valuable as preservative and seasoning agent; as light cannot but enlighten and reveal: so also Christians who are worth their salt should not be able to help following Jesus in going about doing good and attending to the afflicted. If our light shines before others, then our transparent good deeds will be a motive for other to glorify our heavenly Father. The winning back (reconquista in Spanish) of peoples, very Christian for ages but fallen apparently to secularism in our days, lies, it seems to me, in the surrender (rendición, again in Spanish) of ourselves to Jesus and to the least of his brothers and sisters.

And by going about doing good, we will teach with authority, too, and there will be less laments such as that of Cardinal Timothy Dolan. He is reported to have acknowledged in a recent interview his being “well aware that for many people these days, in the wake of the sex abuse crisis, listening to the bishops speak about morality is like ‘Nixon giving a talk on clean government’” [sic—3]. When the Church teaches with authority, the more credible will be our liturgical celebrations, especially the celebration of the Eucharist, and even the religious trappings and symbols which we tend sometimes to identify to be the essence of the religion that is pure and undefiled before God (cf. Jas. 2:27). For, as St. John Chrysostom teaches, if we truly want to honor the body of Christ, we cannot scorn him when we see him naked in the poor nor can we settle for honoring him inside the church with silken garments and golden cups and then, upon leaving church, let him go cold and naked [4]. More convincing and pleasing, I find, Father Pedro Opeka’s work [5] than any sublime pronouncement of wisdom coming, say, from a red-robed Vatican official.


NOTES:

[1] Inter-Varsity Press Commentary at http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Matt/Worthless-Disciples (accessed February 2, 2011).
[2] Gaudium et Spes, 19.
[3] Cf. http://www.ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/inductions-money-religious-freedom-and-polarization (accessed February 2, 2011).
[4] Cf. Then non-biblical reading in the Office of Readings, Liturgy of the Hours, for Saturday, Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time.
[5] Cf. http://cmglobal.org/en/blog/general/review-the-humanitarian-work-of-pedro-opeka/2011/01/26/ (accessed on February 2, 2011).