Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Theme: “You are the light of the world. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15)
By: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC,
Homily for Sunday February 9 2020
“A Seventh-day Adventist pastor from Florida is accused of using a Bible to make a bomb threat at Nashville’s airport. A federal criminal complaint against Jose L. Gonzalez says the minister claimed he was ‘just kidding’ when he reached into his luggage and pulled out a Bible, declaring ‘This is my bomb.’ Gonzalez, who was heading to Orlando on a Delta flight, was released on ten-thousand dollars bail. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.” (Associated Press)
The gospel passage we hear today reminds us that all who profess to follow Jesus must be forthright witnesses to the faith handed down to us. Indeed, forcefully does Jesus address his disciples: “You are the light of the world. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15)
If we truly wish to live with the same vibrancy of faith as did those to whom Jesus first addressed those challenging words, our response may well be seemingly as threatening as the words of that Florida pastor who claimed that his Bible was a bomb. Godly ways stand in stark contradiction to worldly ways and, were an entire society to embrace the Bible wholeheartedly, the result would be as destructive to oppressive institutional structures as a bomb’s explosion. Surely Pastor Jose Gonzalez used poor judgment in his response to the airport baggage screener, but he was not wrong. God’s word, taken seriously by Christians and lived with conviction, is a threat to the status quo.
When I first read the newspaper account of Pastor Gonzalez’s arrest, I chuckled; however, soon did humor turn to a sort of admiration for the strength of this lone man’s witness. While I know nothing of the pastor’s personal life as a committed Christian, his “joke” at the Nashville airport probably caused many to reflect on the truth behind the minister’s jest. And, like myself, I imagine others were given pause as they asked themselves the question: do I live gospel values seriously enough to be a threat to the status quo of society? Sadly, most of us do not. For most of us there is a huge gap between what we profess and how we live. Pastor Gonzalez’s perceived threat at the airport only serves to emphasize that troubling reality.
Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15) Since the Master first spoke those words, his followers have struggled to be light for a world ever darkening.
What light already burning within me might be magnified to bring hope to another’s darkness? What light already burning within me might be magnified to bring warmth to the heart of one grown cold?