You are the light of the world

Gospel Reflections by Rev Canon Philip Wadham

5th Sunday after Epiphany – Feb 6 2011

Fifth Sunday after EpiphanyIs not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator* shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, ‘Here I am’.
Isaiah 58:6-9a

The writer who penned these words was concerned that a people’s outward religiosity was not matched by the way they conducted their lives.  He asks, “What is the good of any of these religious ‘shows’ if the life you lead is out of step with the fundamental principle of your religion?”

The writer then goes on to outline what is the basis of their religion – a compassionate and active concern for all of ones fellow human beings, especially towards those for whom life is particularly difficult and burdensome.   In today’s gospel Jesus reinforces Isaiah’s understanding when he tells those who would follow his way of being human:

You are the light of the worldYou are the light of the world. – let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14,16

Good works do not consist of doing particularly religious things but, as Isaiah (and Amos, Micah, Jeremiah, and later Jesus) pointed out, the truth of our religion is to be found in the way we reach out to help create a compassionate, just world for all of God’s creation.

Rev Canon Philip Wadham
St Stephen’s Anglican Church

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