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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

You are the light of the world.

The Word This Week

While the world may seem to be very indifferent to Christianity most of the time, it can be very critical of Christians who do not seem to be following the most basic tenet of their faith – to be  a people of “good deeds”, as Jesus teaches in today’s portion of the Sermon on the Mount. While we may sometimes feel indignant about the world’s criticism of our faults, we have to remember that we are in a vital relationship with “the word” – we are to be its light. This means that we should welcome the world’s gaze and scrutiny of our actions and beliefs and we should, in a sense, be accountable to the world for the way we live. We should never be salt that loses its taste. This openness to the gaze of all is not for our own glory, however: it is so that others may find what we have found – their way to the Father.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Isaiah 58:7-10

This is a very simple and powerful reading, which should speak very clearly to a congregation: we are very good at complicating things sometimes, and there is a virtue in a simple message, clearly delivered. Let that simplicity come out: don’t preach to the congregation – we should be listening as much as we are reading! Deliver Isaiah’s words with clarity and care, so that they can “sink in” to the congregation’s minds and hearts. Make sure they are ready to listen! The first line of the reading is important: ensure that it is not lost by waiting until the congregation is ready to hear the reading: resist the temptation to hurry to the lectern and to start as soon as the “Amen” to the Opening Prayer of the Mass has been said! Remember to underline the references to light, since that leads to the Gospel passage we will hear shortly afterwards.


Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

What was said about simplicity above is relevant for Paul’s reading today: he is concerned that the Corinthians are losing their way by making everything complicated – using philosophy, rather than listening to the story of what Jesus did. Paul spoke as an eye-witness, from his own experience, and wants to rekindle the faith of the Corinthians by reminding them of this. Prepare this reading by thinking about your faith – how did you first experience the presence of Jesus Christ? If you were trying to tell someone about our faith, would it be by telling stories about Jesus and other Christians, or by philosophical arguments? Realise what Paul is saying – there is an eagerness in his argument. He cares deeply about the Church in Corinth, and is trying to help them get “back to basics”. Offer these words to the congregation to help them think about their faith.



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