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Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World prior to a given Sunday. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons.
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A | February 8/9, 2014
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the first and Gospel readings.
A few years ago, I was asked to take a teaching position at Fr. Judge High School. Excited at the prospect of teaching again, I leapt at the chance.
Then I was given the schedule. 5 classes, all boys, juniors . . . morality.
Undeterred, I threw myself into planning and prepping. I prepared an opening series of lessons that would explain how the happy life could only ever be truly found in the moral life. I had flashy PowerPoints, point by point outlines of my notes, and relevant YouTube videos. I was set!
The lessons ran beautifully. The students dutifully copied the notes and watched the videos. Satisfied, I asked for questions.
And that was when a student in the front row threw his hand into the air and blurted out, “If the moral life makes you happy, then why are all of our religion teachers miserable?”
I was stumped.
Because frankly, the kid was right.
How can it be that we who are called to let our light shine should be content to hide under a bushel basket?
When did we decide that some of us were just not meant to be happy?
When did we choose to settle for anything less than unconditional love?
In reflecting on this Gospel, I have come to believe that we have given too much power to the bushel baskets in our lives.
Those baskets woven together by our fears, our doubts, our regrets, our scars.
We talk ourselves into the necessity of clinging to these baskets.
For we have lived life. We know how hard it can be.
We have been mocked for our views.
We have been the brunt of other’s jokes.
We have had our heart broken by those that we chose to love.
We have been rebuffed when we have tried to reach out.
We are not naïve. We know that if we let our light shine, then others will see us
They will see us as we are . . .
With our imperfections, our failures, our brokenness.
They will accuse us of hypocrisy. They will question our motives. They will ridicule our joy.
Frankly, it is safer to remain under the basket.
But these readings for this Sunday call us down a different path, a more difficult path.
The one in which we choose to let our light shine.
For the world needs the light from each one of us.
Your mother needs your light to help her cope with the demands of running a household and working a full-time job.
Your son needs your light to remind him that he is loved, especially during those years when he doesn’t believe that himself.
Your classmate needs your light when she is bullied for her weight or picked on for his glasses.
Your co-worker needs your light on the day of his big presentation or her annual review.
Your cashier needs your light on those days when she has been belittled and harassed by earlier customers.
Your homeless brother needs your light on those days when you lock eyes as you walk by on the sidewalk.
Your fellow parishioner needs your light on those days when caring for a child with special needs becomes overwhelming.
Your neighbor needs your light on those days when she struggles to open the door with her groceries, while also managing her cane.
I need your light on those days when I am weighed down by my own feelings of inadequacy for the task put before me.
No one of us can bear this task alone.
We need each other. We need each light shining bright.
For we belong to the one body of Christ.
So let your light shine this day my friends.
Let your joy be evident to all who meet you.
Let your love break forth in a million small actions that will change the world.
Run that errand. Write that letter. Give that hug. Grab that cup of coffee. Open that door.
Smile. Laugh. High-five. Dance. Pray.
Say those three words . . . “I love you.” Or, “I am sorry.” Or, “I am here.”
For if we do, they will know that we are Christians by our love.
May God be Praised.
Image courtesy of George Stojkovic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net