I created a new Blog category called “Sunday Readings in the Light of Discipleship.” I will still post an occasional Thought of the Day but I created the new category because the Church’s main mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. That’s it! And the Sunday scripture readings are a key part to this mission.
A disciple of someone or something is one who follows a person or certain teaching, who accepts that teaching, and who spreads that teaching, imitating the one they are following. A disciple is also a student who continues to learn and to grow under that particular teaching. As Catholic Christians, we are disciples of Jesus Christ, called to accept him and his teachings, to continue to learn from him and to imitate him by spreading his teachings in our everyday life.
The readings from the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014 are a beautiful lesson in discipleship and how we are to imitate Christ. From the 58th Chapter of Isaiah we hear, “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.” In other words, as Disciples of Christ, we are to imitate him as we think of the needs of others. We are to put the Gospel into action by practicing stewardship with our many blessings, sharing them with others with a joyful heart. Isaiah says when we do this, “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn.”
Jesus says in the Gospel, “You are the light of the world…your light must shine before others.” As disciples, the light of Christ in us lights up the darkness of the world as it is shone through us in our actions that imitate Christ.
Jesus also said in the Gospel, “You are the salt of the earth.” When the Gospel was written, salt was a very valuable commodity. It was used in 3 ways: (1) for taste, (2) to preserve, and (3) as a unit of exchange. Jesus is telling us as his disciples, as his followers, we are to improve the flavor of this world, we are to preserve souls for the Kingdom of God and we are to be used as a unit of exchange to exchange the darkness of the world to the light of Christ.
The added bonus for us as disciples of Jesus is indicated in the last line of this Sunday’s reading from Isaiah when we do give of ourselves unselfishly, “Then light shall rise for YOU in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for YOU like midday.” In other words, the Lord is telling us when we imitate Christ as his disciples and give of ourselves for the sake of others the darkness and gloom in OUR lives will be dispelled. This is because when we give and we serve, we are uplifted with a joy and a peace that we cannot explain. When we give and we serve it is the Spirit of God welling up in us dispelling any darkness or gloom that may be present in our lives.
As disciples, let us continue to learn and to grow in Christ. Let us be more and more the “salt” and the “light” in the world. When we do imitate Christ we will fulfill the last verse of today’s Gospel, “That they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”