Psalms in the Lectionary
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5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A 2017

Psalms in the Lectionary
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time  Cycle A   2/5/2017
Isaiah 58:7-10; Psalm 112:4-9; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5;
Matthew 5:13-16
Psalm 112 is a wisdom psalm that is reflecting on the rewards and punishments that are tied to the covenant.  Tied to psalm 111, the two psalms are like bookends in describing the Law of Retribution, or that law in the Hebrew Scriptures that tells us we will be rewarded if we do good and punished if we do evil.  Both psalms are acrostic, meaning each line begins with an ascending letter of the Hebrew Alphabet, and each psalm also begins with the cry of praise (Alleluia!).  While Psalm 111 extols the virtues of those who follow the Lord, psalm 112 contrasts those who follow the Lord against those who have turned away from God.  Both psalms are extolling the virtues of the just person: “Happy are those who fear the Lord, who greatly delight in his commandments.”  The person who is faithful to the covenant and to God will be happy.  This song is about inner joy and inner justice and justice for one’s neighbors.   Those who live such lives of justice are not afraid of evil things; their heart is firm and steady and joyful in the Lord; they distribute freely and give to the poor.  The readings this weekend in Ordinary Time are exploring what exactly it means to be that just person.  The first reading from Isaiah calls on each of us to share our bread with the hungry, shelter the homeless, and clothe the naked.  Then we shall be a light to the nations.  Matthew’s Gospel continues form last week from the Sermon on the Mount, and instructs us to be the salt of the earth and that same light for the world.  On the heels of Candlemas or the Feast of the Presentation and light this week, this weekend’s readings are still talking about light and calling us to take Christ the Light out into the world.   This week, I watched as a little child read the Word of God and pondered its meaning in a catechesis class.  Before she started, the catechist lit a candle.  She later told me they do that every time they read the Word of God to remind the child that Jesus is the light that shines within them.  The readings this weekend call us to recognize that light of Christ within ourselves and then take it to our neighbors.  They invite us to PROCLAIM the Good News!  They call us to evangelize! Psalm 112 invites us to do just that.
The refrain is taken from verse four of the psalm: 
 “The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.”
verses 4-5:
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice.
verses 6-7:
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
An evil report he shall not fear;
his heart is firm, trusting I the LORD.
verses 8-9
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
his justice shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
Today’s first reading from Isaiah (58:7-10) is a description of what is necessary to live the life of justice: to care for the poor and be that light for the world.
Thus says the LORD: Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.  Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.  Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, and shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!  If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.
The Gospel from Matthew (5:13-16) tells us what is required for us to be light for the world: we are to shed light on all, so that all may see more clearly the goodness of God, our heavenly Father.
Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth.  But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?  It is not longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  You are the light of the world.  A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.  Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” 
The second reading from the first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 2:6-10) is similar to the two psalms in that it is contrasting what the wise person who loves God will come to understand vs. what the rulers of this age have come to understand.
Brothers and sisters: We speak a wisdom to those who are mature, not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.  Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew; for, if they had know it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But as it is written:
What eye has not seen,
and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him.
This God has revealed to us through the Spirit.  For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.
Psalm 112 is a beautiful hymn of God’s fidelity to the man who seeks God, loves justice and walks in his ways.  It ties the readings together and invites us at the same time to be God’s light for the world.