5th Sunday after the Epiphany

Lectionary 1st Reading Psalm 2nd Reading Gospel
Anglican lectionary:
Isaiah 58: 1 - 4
112:1 - 10
Matthew 5 : 13 - 16
Catholic lectionary:

Isaiah 58: 1- 14: Holistic Redemption

God redeems us from sin and all sorts of bondage. “Everyone who sins is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). He was sold as a slave to sin says St. Paul (Romans 6:17, 23; 7:14). Through the cross God ordained a holistic redemption. There should be a liberation and redemption from all forms of bondage. Some people see Lent as largely ‘spiritual’, but real Lent is a prayer for redemption from all forms of bondages. Isaiah 58 verses 5 and 6 says, “Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is it not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” There should be a liberation from every bondage be it personal, spiritual, mental, societal or ecological. That is the holistic liberation that pleases God.

Psalm 112:1-10: Praise the Lord

Psalm 112 certainly is beautiful, a real work of Hebrew poetic art. For one thing, it is a twin to Psalm 111 in many ways. Both are alphabetic acrostics with each Hebrew half line advancing through the alphabet.

In the Psalms, praising of the Creator is almost as common as praising God as Saviour of his people.  Usually, this praising of God was confined to humans alone but the Psalmist invites all creation, animate and inanimate, human and non-human to praise God, conscious of the fact that without this vast symphony, fitting praise of God would be lacking.  The close connection between the work of justice and concern for the whole creation and especially the land in which people depend for their life, is the thread running through the Psalm.

Matt. 5:13-16: Salt and Light

  • Salt gives taste to food (Job.6:6, Is. 30:24).
  • It preserves food materials from decaying (Mk. 9:49,50, Colo. 4:6).
  • It is used in sacrifice (Lev. 2:13, Ezra. 6:10, Ez. 43:24).
  • Eating salt in a common meal is a symbol of friendship and trust of faithfulness. Therefore, the Covenant that God made with Israel is known as salt law (Bereeth Mela) (Num. 18:19, 2 Deut. 13:5).
  • It is used as insecticide (Ez. 16:4).
  • Salt is the symbol of peace of mind (Mk. 9:50).
  • It is the symbol of Christian mission work (Matt. 5:13).

For all these above said ideas, theological interpretations can also be given.

God is being pictured as light (1 Jn.1:5, James 1:17, I Tim. 6:16, Ps. 104:2, 27:1). Christ is also light (Jn. 1:4, 8:12, 1:9, 12:35, 36). Light symbolizes holiness and purity (Eccl. 6:23, Is. 5:20, Rom. 13:12). Spiritual enlightenment is also called light (2 Cor. 4:6, Eph. 5:14, 1 Pet. 2:9). God’s word is also light (Ps. 109:105). Day – night and light – darkness shows the dualistic status of nature. They are just opposites. People of God are the children of light (Lk. 16:8, Jn. 12:36, 1 Thess. 5:5). Therefore, they are called the light of the world (Phil. 2:15). We should put on the armour of light (Rom. 13:12, Eph. 6:12, 1 Thess. 5:8). Christians should walk as though they belong to light. Their light should enlighten others (Matt. 5:16, 10:27; Lk. 8:16, 11:33, 12:3; Acts 13:47).  

The Christian community has a responsibility to serve God’s healing, reconciling activity in the world. Our shared convictions impel us, precisely as Christian communities, to engage in the church’s role of justice and peace and to marshal such engagement as an effective path towards greater unity, not only of the churches but also the whole created order. Taken together, our communities are potentially a tremendously significant agent in promoting environmental issues and are called to grow in the role, so as to more fully respond to Christ’s call that they be “light of the world” and “salt of the earth” (Matt 5:13-14).  Such an influence in public life is possible precisely because, in their essential nature, our Churches are communities of formation in and practice of Christian discipleship. In each church, the word of God is proclaimed, people are called to faith and conversion, their new life in Christ is celebrated in worship, lifelong formation is provided in gospel values, and a life of active discipleship is fostered.

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Rev. Prem Mitra

Rev. Prem Mitra is the Chairperson of ARocha India and Presbyter in charge in Karnataka central diocese, Church of South India 

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