In this section
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
How to proclaim the faith in our daily life?
We might be wondering how does Our Lord's teaching today, let your light shine out - show your good works for all to see - match what he teaches in another place, pray in secret where no one can see, don't let people know you are fasting, when you give alms, help to the poor, don't even let your right hand know what your left is doing?
There is a clue in what St Paul writes to the Corinthians. I didn't come with any great show, the only thing I said I knew was Jesus crucified, I came not with power but in fear and trembling and I relied not on cleverness or the power of my argument but on the power of the Spirit.
The light, the things people see and remark on come not from any great visible power but from something simple and personal. The source of the light is our relationship with Jesus, our love for Jesus or better - our loving response to the divine love Jesus reveals for us.
The hidden life...
In essence that love is something deeply private and personal. It is between me and Jesus. It should not be exposed to public gaze, that would actually cheapen it, it would be wrong, and would damage the love. Think of a husband and wife. The most intimate and personal expressions of their love for each other are essentially private, they are unique to that couple, the couple don't even talk about them to others - but that private personal unique aspect of their love is what shines out in their faithfulness, their children, their family. It's why people look at them and say what a wonderful couple, what a great family, what a happy marriage.
So with us, our secret loving conversations with Jesus, our betrayals, his forgiveness, the self giving, the consolations and sorrows and joys. Many of these are private. No one sees them or even knows about them, our prayer, our spiritual life, our charity, our going to mass even, is often hidden from the world, even from colleagues or friends. And sometimes that's how it should be. Only God knows. But that private life of love, that relationship between Jesus and me does shine out like a lamp. It can't be hidden.
...is the salt that gives our lives flavour
The hidden life is the salt that gives our lives flavour, the fuel for the light. And the flavour, the light is perceived by people. It's part of what St Paul calls the power of the spirit. People recognise in our visible actions the fruit of our invisible life of love our relationship with Jesus.
And to be practical, that means straight forward things as clearly taught by the prophet Isaiah, care for the poor, don't be angry or violent, help the homeless, don't turn away from those who need you. That couple are a loving couple because they care for their children, they respect each other, they are friendly, the inner life is beautiful, profound, intimate, private but it's fruits are very practical.
And to make a final point. It's not clear, and I don't think it's meant to be, which comes first. Loving Jesus and therefore helping the poor, being peaceful, doing good or helping the poor, being peaceful, doing good and then learning to love Jesus. They can't actually be separated - but what does come first always is Jesus' love for us.