“ Share your bread with the hungry; shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe 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.”
“THE just man is a light in darkness to the upright.” — Psalm 112
As the priest sprinkled the candles with Holy Water, he reminded us that God is the source of light to all people. And as we processed to the Church with lighted candles to celebrate Mass, he prayed that we reach this light that never fails through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
This event was last Thursday in the seminary during the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, 40 days after the joyful feast of the Nativity of our Savior. It was a feast to remember the day when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple and when Simeon and Anna recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior of all nations.
What a beautiful feast to celebrate on an ordinary day, a feast that is full of meaning especially in the political climate of this country and the world. A feast day like this one should affect our lives and make us reflect on the happenings around us.
More and more, many people seem to forget that Jesus came to bring light into darkness to everyone, especially the poor, the sinners, the sick, the hungry, and the homeless. More and more, we seem to forget that the Lord calls us to be his light to those who suffer and are lost. For as Jesus tells us in the Gospel this Sunday (Matthew 5:13-16): “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.”
Whatever political leanings we embrace, whoever the president we believe and support, we Christians should remember the mandate of God from the time he journeyed with the people of Israel:
“Share your bread with the hungry; shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe 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.” (Isaiah 58:7-10)
Indeed, we must take care of our people and not “turn our back” on them. We must provide security and the jobs to our fellow citizens. But the Gospel calls us to the greater responsibility of loving our “neighbors”: men, women, and children in our neighboring countries that suffer persecution, famine, and homelessness.
The political issues in this country may be complicated, and one must understand the different facts and point of views, but to be true to baptismal identity as Christians, we must bring the light of hope to others. As the Gospel relates, our light must shine before others, that they may see our good deeds and glorify our heavenly Father.
* * *
From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1999-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of ImmAaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.