by Father Alonzo Cox
I am blessed at my parish to have the Missionaries of Charity living in the convent next to the rectory. The Missionaries of Charity were founded by St. Teresa of Calcutta. Her primary goal was to serve the poorest of the poor. Mother Teresa, as she was affectionately known, traveled all over the world preaching the Good News of Christ, telling all of God’s people of how we can bring the love and mercy of Christ to all of our brothers and sisters, most especially the poorest of the poor. Mother Teresa would tell her sisters that they must be the light of the world! They must allow the light of Christ to shine through them for all the world to see.
Here in the Diocese of Brooklyn, we are fortunate to have two houses of these wonderful nuns, a contemplative house and an active house. Every Friday morning, I celebrate the 7:00 a.m. Mass for the nuns living in the convent of my parish. I am reminded every Friday morning that we must be that light Mother Teresa encouraged us to be.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world. Just as he told his disciples, the Lord is reminding us to let that light shine for everyone to see. At the very moment of our baptism, we are given a candle. At that moment, the priest or deacon says, “Receive the light of Christ.”
As disciples of the Risen Lord, we must never allow that light to be extinguished. We must continue to bring Christ to this world, even in the midst of darkness, war and gloom. We see now more than ever, that our world needs to be enlightened with Christ Jesus.
What are some of the ways that we can bring the light of Christ to our world?
We hear of one way in today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah. Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and do not turn your back on those who are in need. These are just nice things to do for us to feel better about ourselves afterwards, but in reality, it’s exactly how we must keep the light of Christ alive in our world, in our society and in our communities.
I see firsthand each day how the Missionaries of Charity bring that light of Christ to those whom they encounter on the streets of our city. Along with the hundreds of volunteers who assist them in their ministry, these faithful sisters feed the hungry, provide shelter to young mothers who have nowhere to go, pray with the sick and journey with those who are about to enter the heavenly kingdom. That is the light Mother Teresa wanted her sisters to bring, and so can we.
In just a few weeks, we will enter into the sacred season of Lent. As we prepare to celebrate our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection, let us ask ourselves in prayer, how can I better bring the light of Christ into this world?
Readings for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 58: 7-10
Psalm 112: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
1 Corinthians 2: 1-5
Matthew 5: 13-16
Father Cox is the pastor of St. Martin de Porres parish, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and diocesan coordinator of ministry to African-American Catholics.