Today’s First Reading from Isaiah 58 holds stunning images. As I continue to process the trip to the Dominican I read these words with new eyes: loose the bonds of injustice, undo the thong of the yoke, let the oppressed go free, break every yoke, share your bread with the hungry, bring the homeless poor into your home, and cover the naked are all within the realm of possibility. I replay some of the conversations in my mind, turning them over, listening again with compassion and understanding. One day the world will be free of all these shameful scenarios. One day Light shall break forth like the dawn and healing shall spring up quickly. The glory of the Lord shall be our rear guard. When we call the Lord will answer.
Until then, Isaiah proclaims the Lord wants us to remove yokes, stop pointing fingers and speaking evil. We are to offer our food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted so that our light will arise in the darkness. Matthew invites us in today’s Gospel to let our light shine before humans so that our good works may be seen and glory given to God. We are not supposed to hide our light under a bushel basket but to place it on a lampstand so that it may give light to all in the house. I keep thinking about the homeowner–a single mother–who worked harder and longer than many of us. I am not sure of her life story. The slivers I do know are telling. No one should have to carry so much pain. The oppressed are often riddled with painful stories of loss and sorrow. I found this true for some of the Dominican people as well.
The little acts of kindness that were done throughout the week lifted the burden and break the yoke–a smile, a helping hand, an attempt to speak Spanish, a dance step or two, the painting of fingernails, a hand squeeze. These are as important as building the homes. The founders of the organization we went with kept reminding us that the week was about relationships or of letting our light shine. The world can see our good works, but it is God who knows the hearts that do them, and it is God who should receive the glory. As St. Ignatius says, to God be the Glory!
What small act of kindness have you done recently that has broken the yoke of someone who is burdened?
Are you hiding your light or letting it shine?
God, we find ourselves hiding under a bushel instead of shining our light for you. Show me how to serve you better by helping to break the yoke of oppression, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless. Help me to stop pointing fingers and speaking evil. Instead, Creator, let your Divine Light burst through me into our world and bring you glory. Amen.