Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time [a]

Engaging Faith | Sat, Feb 5, 2011

By John Bucki, S.J.

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time [a]

February 6, 2011



     Isaiah 58:7-10

     1 Corinthians 2:1-5

     Matthew 5:13-16



January 30 - February 5, 2011: Catholic Schools Week

February: African American History Month

February 6: Super Bowl Sunday

February 6: National Day of Prayer for the African American Family

February 7: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day  

February 11: World Day of the Sick (also feast of Our Lady of Lourdes)




The parish is where the Church lives. Parishes are communities of faith, of action, and of hope.  One of the most encouraging signs of the gospel at work in our midst is the vitality and quality of social justice ministries in our parishes. More and more, the social justice dimensions of our faith are moving from the fringes of parishes to become an integral part of local Catholic life.

US Bishops, Communities of Salt and Light


“Our nation has been blessed with great freedom, vibrant democratic traditions, unprecedented economic strengths, abundant natural resources, and a generous and religious people. Yet not all is right with our nation. Our prosperity does not reach far enough. Our culture does not lift us up; instead it may bring us down in moral terms. This new world we lead is still too dangerous, giving rise to ethnic cleansing and an inability to confront hunger and genocide. We are still falling short of the American pledge of “liberty and justice for all,” our declaration to defend the inalienable rights of the person--“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

U.S. Bishops, Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium


"Gratitude is at the core of a healthy spiritual life.  It helps me to recognize how cherished I am by God and to live in awareness of the generous daily miracles provided by God.  I cannot be grateful without the gift of memory, without recalling or recognizing the good things of my life.  . . Remembering my past blessings helps me to see how deeply involved God is with my life."

Joyce Rupp, "The Star in My Heart"


At a time of rampant individualism, we stand for family and community. At a time of intense consumerism, we insist it is not what we have, but how we treat one another that counts. … At a time of growing isolation, we remind our nation of its responsibility to the broader world, to pursue peace, to welcome immigrants, to protect the lives of hurting children and refugees. At a time when the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, we insist the moral test of our society is how we treat and care for the weakest among us. In these challenging days, we believe that the Catholic community needs to be more than ever a source of clear moral vision and effective action. We are called to be the "salt of the earth" and "light of the world" in the words of the Scriptures (cf. Mt 5:13-16).

US Bishops, Communities of Salt and Light


An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.


Thoughts for your consideration


The gospel is a wonderful and positive statement about the Christian life. The followers of Jesus are both salt and light. In 1993, the US Bishops used this imagery when they published Communities of Salt and Light and addressed issues around implementing Catholic Social teaching on the parish level. 


Jesus reminds us that this wonderful gift, this marvelous vision, this great reality is not just a feeling or a gift for one’s interior life.  It is a gift for the whole world.  It is something to be shared and lived out in our service of one another and our promotion of peace and justice in the world.


The first reading from Isaiah reminds us that this light involves not simply personal piety or religious enthusiasm.  It involves service to and solidarity with those in need.  It is then that the light is most clear and bright.

Share your bread with the hungry,

shelter the oppressed and the homeless;

clothe the naked when you see them,

and do not turn your back on your own.

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,

and your wound shall quickly be healed;

your vindication shall go before you.


Furthermore, Isaiah points out that it involves more than service to the poor and needy. It involves removing oppression.  I suppose today, we would say that it involves working for social change and liberation for the entire world.  It involves awareness of the important issues in our world, social analysis, and learning from those who live the experience of injustice. It involves courageous work for justice and for the transformation of society.


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When have you reached out to those in need and felt the light the scriptures talk about?

What did you learn as you had direct contact with people in need? 

What did they teach you?  What “light” did they give you?


Actions – Links


In 1993, the US Bishops published Communities of Salt and Light and addressed issues around implementing Catholic Social teaching on the parish level.  It can be found at


For the annual Message of the Holy Father for the World Day of the Sick – February 11, go to:

Dear brothers and sisters, on this World Day of the Sick, I also invite the authorities to invest more and more in health-care structures that provide help and support to the suffering, above all the poorest and most in need…

“Crazy Facts”


Bread for the world reports the following at


In 2005, the latest year for which data are available, 1.4 billion people in developing countries lived in extreme poverty—on less than $1.25 a day—down from 1.9 billion in 1981.


In the United States, 14.6 percent of households struggle to put food on the table. Nearly one in four children is at risk of hunger.



Prayers of Intercession


Response: God, let your light shine in the darkness.

That we may share our bread with the hungry, we pray….

That we may shelter the oppressed and the homeless, we pray…

That we may clothe the naked when we see them and not turn our back on our own we pray….

That we may remove from our midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech, we pray…

That all the wounds in our society be quickly healed, we pray….

That we may satisfy all who are afflicted, we pray….

That God’s justice and peace will rule everywhere, we pray….



Prayer - Meditation


O Brother Jesus, who as a child was carried into exile,
remember all those who are deprived of their home or country,
who groan under the burden of anguish and sorrow,
enduring the burning heat of the sun,
the freezing cold of the sea,
or the humid heat of the forest,
searching for a place of refuge.
Cause these storms to cease, O Christ.
Move the hearts of those in power
that they may respect the men and women
whom you have created in your image;
that the grief of refugees may be turned to joy,
as when you led Moses and your people out of captivity.

An African prayer for refugees from