5th Sunday After Epiphany, February 5, 2017
Fifth Sunday After Epiphany (Year A)
Scripture Readings*: Isaiah 58:1-9a, (9b-12), 1 Corinthians 2:1-12, (13-16), Matthew 5:13-20, Psalm 112:1-9, (10)
Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
Isaiah pleads with his listeners to grasp the reality of sin. He describes a superficial religiousness (vv. 1-3a) that uncovers the hypocrisy of a people whose personal lives – and society – are corrupt (vv. 3b-7). However, if Israel desires a spiritual reformation and puts away “the yoke of oppression,” God will answer His people’s prayers and sustain them.
1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16)
Paul abandoned the approach taken by itinerant philosophers and teachers when he came to Corinth, to rely totally on God’s Spirit in his presentation of the Gospel (2:1–5). Paul’s present appeal does display “wisdom,” but a secret wisdom, which is beyond the comprehension of mankind (vv. 6–10a). The Spirit of God (who, being God knows the thoughts of God) has revealed that wisdom in words. And these spiritual truths (contained in those Spirit–shaped words) are interpreted by the Spirit to those, who through faith in Christ possess the Spirit.
When we wish to stress someone’s solid worth and usefulness, we say of that person: “People like that are the salt of the earth.” In the ancient world salt was highly valued; often connected with purity. Salt was a common preservative, used to keep things from going bad. As followers of Christ, we have a certain antiseptic influence on life.
People need light to see. As followers of Christ, our lights are to shine before others so that others will see the glory of our Father in heaven.
Taste and See That the Lord Is Good
Good parents live out and model for their children how to live. Children learn to be honest by observing the honesty of their parents. They learn responsibility, kindness, and compassion the same way.
In a very similar way, people around us learn about God. If they see hypocrisy and “religiosity,” it is the same as a parent who instructs, “Do as I say and not as I do.” That’s why today’s readings are full of concrete examples of how we are to live, revealing God to the world around us.
Isaiah’s words tell God’s people – and us – to break the bonds of injustice, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and clothe the naked. Jesus tells us to bring flavor and preservation to the world – to shine a light that reveals both a dwelling place and the glory of God.
Through us, the world can taste and see the goodness of God. Through us, God is revealed and the world restored.
Prayer for Fifth Sunday After Epiphany – “Set me free, O God, from my sin and free me to live out the abundance of Your life through Jesus Christ. Blessed be God forever. Amen.”
*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A