Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany/in Ordinary Time (A), February 5, 2017 - Matthew 5:13-20 and Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)

Matthew 5:13-20

Alternate Fact

Jesus used an alternate fact
Because they knew: Salt cannot lack
For taste, no matter what they say;
Nor can a city on a hill
Be hid, no matter what you will;
Boxed up, a new lamp doesn't stay,
But everyone will plug it in
For light - there is no other spin;
Such facts stood then, and stand today. 

And you are like that lamp and salt,
Existing so you might exalt
The one whose love has made you so;
This fact no one can take away,
And thus, the rules of love will stay!
God's people from them shall not go,
And need each day to demonstrate
That neighbor-caring cannot wait,
In towns and cities, high or low. 

Scott L. Barton

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

+  +  +

Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)

Here I Am! 

Have you ever noticed, "Here I am,"
That great response to the great "I am?"
So many say it throughout the text,
But then, Easy Street is never next!
Abraham says it first to the LORD,
And then, to Isaac, while holding a sword;
And then a third time back to his God,
Each time portends a challenge so odd
You worry for the one who spoke it,
Since what those words all seem to transmit
Is something so scary up ahead
It's like a cue, filling you with dread;
For Esau, Jacob, and Joseph, too;
And then again, when Israel, who
Heard words that he should be not afraid
Feared, by sons, again he'd be betrayed!
Moses says it to that burning bush,
Then, Samuel, when, from sleeping, is pushed
To go to old Eli, speaks times five
These words; which means he could be deprived
Of life and limb, since answ'ring that call
Some day means he'll stand up to Saul!
The Psalmist, too, then risks offending
Those who would mock his faith unending;
And finally, Jeremiah risks it;
We hold our breaths, 'til he's acquitted.

But guess what? The LORD says such words, too!
In Isaiah, these same words construe
The risk God takes not to be swayed by
Our words, unless it's love we live by.

So when it comes
to love, I guess,
There's no such thing
as no duress.

Scott L. Barton
(The references above are to Gen. 22:1, 7 and 11;  27:1 and 18; 31:11; 37:13; 46:2; Exod. 3:4; 1 Sam. 3:4, 5, 6, 8 and 16; Psalm 40:7; Jer. 26:14; and Isa. 65:1, as well as our text, 58:9)

Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
"Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?"
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you, 
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 
if you offer your food to the hungry 
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, 
then your light shall rise in the darkness 
and your gloom be like the noonday. 
The Lord will guide you continually, 
and satisfy your needs in parched places, 
and make your bones strong; 
and you shall be like a watered garden, 
like a spring of water, 
whose waters never fail. 
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; 
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; 
you shall be called the repairer of the breach, 

the restorer of streets to live in.

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