Of all the expressions of our Judeo-Christian calling to engage in corporal and spiritual acts of mercy, today’s first reading from the book of Isaiah has to be one of the most beautiful, the most eloquent.
In the gospel, we have Jesus’ beautiful and well-known words: “You are the salt of the earth… you are the light of the world”, these words that are almost embarrassing because they seem so incredibly flattering of us. But Jesus goes on: “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
It is with good reason that these words resonate with us. We would so like for them to be true. The problem in part is that, beautiful and suggestive as they are, they remain vague. Jesus identifies the light that shines forth from us with “good works”, but which ones, exactly?
In today’s first reading we have a wonderful and abundantly clear answer to that question.
“Your light shall break forth like the dawn, your light shall rise in the darkness – on the day you loose the bonds of injustice, you let the oppressed go free, you break every yoke, you share your bread with the hungry, you bring the homeless poor into your house, you cover the naked, you satisfy the needs of the afflicted. Every time you engage in any one of the above, your light breaks forth, your light rises in the darkness.
And of course we know from the other famous text in Isaiah – “Lift up your eyes and see; they come to you, they come to your light” – we know that this is the light that draws others to us, to our Christian fold, to our light.
Let us turn this blessed revelation into prayer. Let us thank God for the privilege of living our human lives in the awareness of this gospel of mercy. Let us thank him for the many ministries in our parish that constitute works of mercy. Finally, let us ask of Him the grace to truly be “the salt of the earth, the light of the world”, not for our glory, but that our light might truly, effectively break forth like the dawn, and that others might be drawn to our light, to live their lives together with us, under the light of this gospel.