February 9, 2020 – 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/020920.cfm)
Let me tell you two stories.
First, ten years ago I met, Nanay Elisabeth, a leprosy infected-old lady. She was confined in a hospital in Cebu that especially takes care of leprosy patients. Due to her illness, she never got married. Life was so difficult because she was poor. Once, she shared with me an experience. In her younger years, she was into scavenging garbage in Cebu City. One morning, as she approached a garbage bin to collect recyclable materials she found something. She found “something” or much better to say “someone” inside the garbage bin that others might have thought, was a trash. Nay Elisabeth found a newly born baby girl in that garbage bin. She named her Nancy. And Nancy, perhaps, a reason why she was thrown away was because Baby Nancy had a cerebral palsy. But what was more heartwarming there, was Nanay Elisabeth’s compassion and unconditional love for the baby.
As it seemed that nobody wanted that baby and no one would dare to love and care for that baby, but for Nanay Elisabeth, all her love and affection were for Nancy. She brought Nancy home and did all her best to let Nancy feel that she was loved and treasured.
Second, John was an extra-ordinary youth from Davao del Sur. In the sense that he was deprived of many things that most of us here are enjoying. He is the eldest of five children of a broken family. They were like orphans as they were left alone by their parents. John wanted to continue his studies so that soon he can support his younger siblings. A family friend offered to support his studies as he worked at the same time for that family. He had to take care every day the pigpen as he was asked to do it. Yet, the treatment of that family was not that favorable. When he would commit mistakes he was insulted in front of others. John surely felt insecure from many things, of material things and especially from the comfort and support of his own parents. But, there was something that was surprising in him.
Despite all these difficulties, John has a big and generous heart not just for his own siblings but also for street children. When he has money in his pocket, he buys bread. He brings the bread with him and calls out some street children at San Pedro. There, he sits with them and shares his bread with them, and shares stories with the street children.
Amazing aren’t they? But please, let us not stop at the feeling of amazement only. Each of us, is called by Jesus to be “salt of the earth and light of the world.” That identity and responsibility of being salt – in giving flavor to the lives of others, and of being light – in giving brightness to those who are in darkness are in each of us – because we are Christians!
In the Book of Prophet Isaiah, the Lord tells us concretely, “share your bread to the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them… remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech.” Can you feel now the weight of being a Christian? The consequence of believing in that man who died on the cross?
St Paul reminds us of the light given to us. Jesus’ life is the light that you and I have received and are sharing.
There is a need for us to be conscious of that identity and responsibility that we share as a Catholic community. The readings and the Gospel are there to make us aware of our calling. Nanay Elisabeth and John, though they may not be aware of it, have become salt of the earth and light of the world.
Each of us too, we might have our own dullness in our own relationships and darkness in our own lives, but WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. We are capable of becoming salt and light for others. We don’t need to become a Superman or Spiderman, or Cardo Dalisay to do something good and in making difference and adding flavor to the lives others. We don’t have to wear masks and wear strange costumes. But, I just have to be me, and you to be you – because we are Christians and Jesus, the ultimate salt and light of the world, is with us.
Like Nanay Elisabeth and John, we can truly become salt of the earth and light of the world in our own simple ways despite our own limitations and insecurities and no matter how insignificant we might be in our society. WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. This will start when we become aware of the needs of others, when we begin to see the face of our neighbors, of the one seated at your side, in front of you and at your back.
Now, think of people around us who live in darkness and depression. Think of illiterate people, children who never get a chance to go to school – their illiteracy is darkness to them; think of those who are addicted to substances, drugs and alcohol – their life seemed to be in total darkness; think of the poorest of the poor, the old and the dying, the sick and the crippled – sometimes they have to beg for them to survive; think of a friend who is lonely and isolated; think of a neighbor who is losing her or his faith because of a traumatic experience; or those whose marriage is problematic and the family is about to break; think of those who are pushed to the peripheries because of discrimination juts because they are different or a possible threat to many – imagine their loneliness and helplessness of being pushed aside and left alone. They are in need and are looking for some support and consolation, a listening ear and a warm, welcoming hug.
Think of those; and as our assignment – DO SOMETHING GOOD, SOMETHING CHARITABLE THIS WEEK. So that as we reach out to others in compassion and love, we become the flavor and light of Christ to others. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR