"OF" or "FROM"

Sunday, February 5, 2023

The FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

ANNOUNCEMENT

Fr Tom Iwanowski, the writer of Looking to Sunday, has co-authored a new book of reflections for the coming season of Lent. It is titled, OPEN OUR HEARTS. It has been published by RENEW INTERNATIONAL, for more information or to order a book, please go to

https://store.renewintl.org/products/open-our-hearts-year-a



The United States Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. That freedom is enshrined in the First Amendment that reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

 

Today, the scope of religious freedom enshrined in the Constitution is questioned by some people. For them, freedom of religion means that believers are free to practice their faith in their houses of worship, but they are not free to bring their religious beliefs into public life.

 

Rather than freedom of religion, these people advocate for freedom FROM religion. They believe that the concept of separation of church and state means that religious ideas and beliefs must not be allowed to influence society.

 

Those who hold this understanding are not comfortable with invocations at public events, with religious displays in town squares, with affirmations of belief in God, or with government leaders basing their decisions on Biblical principles, religious teachings, or moral codes. Some even seek to prohibit religious organizations from performing works of charity if those organizations hold beliefs that do not conform to the opinions and ideas of today’s “woke” society.

 

This hostile, secular attitude has made many Christians hesitant to speak about their faith in Jesus Christ, to oppose behaviors and policies that contradict the Gospel, or to defend the Church against unwarranted attacks in the media.

 

But our Christian faith is not to be a private affair practiced within the walls of a church with no effect beyond our homes and families.

 

God has blessed us with faith in Christ not only for our own sake but for the sake of the world. Jesus certainly makes that very clear in this Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 5:13-16).

 

There Jesus tells us, "You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world.”

 

Just as salt preserves and flavors, so Christians are to preserve and defend all that is good and righteous in society and to flavor it with acts of kindness, mercy, and forgiveness.

 

Just as light dispels the darkness, so Christians are to light up society by sharing the message of the Gospel and by living as followers of Jesus Christ who love God and neighbor.

 

Such love of neighbor is described in this Sunday’s First Reading (Isaiah 58:7-10). “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.”

 

Christians are to be salt and light not to draw attention to themselves, but rather, as Jesus tells us, so that people “may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father."

 

However, to keep from losing our “Christian flavor” in a world filled with self-centered blandness and to keep our light visible in a society seeking to “put it under a bushel basket”, we need more than ever, to stay connected with Jesus Christ and his Church through daily prayer and Sunday Mass.

 

It takes effort and courage to be what we became at baptism, "… the salt of the earth…the light of the world.”

 

© 2023 Rev. Thomas Iwanowski