5th Sunday of Ordinary Time

In the beginning of Saint John’s Gospel, we are told that Jesus Christ is the Light of the entire human race; the Eternal Son of God came into the world to be Light for us who dwelt in darkness: Jesus Christ is the Light that shines in our dark world and the darkness has not overcome His Light.  Later in Saint John’s Gospel Jesus says that He is the Light of the World and that whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness.  Today Jesus says to His disciples and to us: “You are the light of the world.”

We are called to be light in the world; that light does not come from ourselves: we receive light from Christ, Who is the True Light, and we are called to let His light shine through us.  On the day of our Baptism certain promises were made, either by us or on our behalf.  Before someone is baptized, they are called to renounce the darkness: in our baptismal promises we pledged to reject Satan and all his works and empty promises; we then proclaimed our Faith in all that is contained within the Creed.  Then, when we were baptized we were baptized into Christ: through Baptism we became members of His mystical body.  Through Baptism we become so identified with Christ that we share in His mission to be light in the world.  At our Baptism, a candle was lit from the Pascal Candle and it was given to us with the words: “Receive the Light of Christ.”  Then we received a call to keep that light burning within our hearts.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that we are to let the light that we have received shine before others.  We received light from Christ: it is a gift that He freely bestowed upon us and it is a gift that we received in order that we may give it away.  How does Jesus tell us to be light in the world?  In today’s Gospel, Jesus goes on to say that we must let our light shine in the world so that others may see our good deeds and glorify our heavenly Father.  We, Christians, are called to do good deeds: our faith is meant to be lived out in day-to-day life.  Like Father John says: “Faith is not a spectator sport.”  We are to put our faith into practice: we are to cultivate the virtues in ourselves; we are called to do works of mercy, we are called to act with kindness and compassion; Jesus commanded us to love God above everything and our neighbor as ourselves.  The love that we are called to is more than a warm feeling: love is active it is not passive.  Jesus modeled that love for us: Jesus showed us that true love pours itself out in service for others.  Jesus said that He came to serve, not to be served.  Love is a choice and it is a choice that has to be made again and again throughout each and every day and it is not always an easy choice.

Jesus tells many parables about the need for us to bear fruit.  In one parable He says that He is the Vine and we are the branches: if we fail to bear fruit, we will be pruned away.  In another parable, we hear of a master handing out coins, and of one of the servants who received a coin and buried it so as not to lose it; in the end that servant had the coin taken away because he did not use it to yield more than he was given.  We can probably think of many other examples in the Gospels that amount to the same truth: if we fail to live out our faith in love we cannot call ourselves true Christians.  Jesus says: “If you love Me, follow My commands,” and Jesus commands us to love one another even as He has loved us.

We have to ask ourselves: how do we put our faith into practice?  Then, when we are aware of the ways that we put our faith into practice, we also have to be attentive to the last line of today’s Gospel: we have to make sure that the works that we do are done that other’s may see our good deeds and glorify God.  The first part of being light in the world is putting our faith into practice, the second part is making sure that we are doing what we do for the glory of God and not for our own glory.  We have to remember that we are called to be light that others may find their way to God.  We can do good works for the sake of doing good works, or we can do good works for God’s glory and honor.

Jesus calls us to do good works so that God will be glorified.  This part can be challenging: when we do works of mercy, for example, we feel good about helping others.  There is nothing wrong with feeling good about the good works that we do, but we should try to keep in mind the ultimate reason that we do the things that we do.  When we set out to do some charitable works, it can be helpful to start with a prayer offering that work to God.  When the work is completed, it can be useful to again ask the Lord that our work might be a pleasing offering to Him.

When we do things for love of God we grow in our relationship with God and we also store up for ourselves treasure in Heaven.  Let us ask God to help us to truly be light in the world.  Lord Jesus, help us to live out our faith every day.  Help us to love You and love others as You call us to.  May we bear witness to You in our lives and in our actions so that You may be glorified.  Help us to do all that we do for Your greater glory and honor.  Amen.