The Fast to Which We Are Called

Reflection on the 5th Sunday after the Epiphany

Textual Focus: Isaiah 58:1-12, Matthew 5:13-20
Click here for biblical texts

 

Being salt of the earth is not easy
nor is it simple to be the light of the world.
But Jesus told disciples that is what they are,
what we are, too, if we take our vocation seriously.
Salt enhances the flavor of our faith,
perhaps the faith of others because ours is so tasty,
helps preserve faith when times are tough.
Light can help us see, but what Jesus really means
is our light is meant to help others see.

Faith needs pepper too, black for sure, maybe cayenne,
surely garlic and oregano, even paprika
if it is to be strong, resilient and ready to upend us
from our lethargy and acquiescence
to the way things have always been.
We need  full-bodied faith, richly textured,
deeply flavored, pungent to attract attention
not to us but to God working in us.  
The prophet says shout loudly, don’t hold back,
lift every volce and sing,
and I say people need not only to hear our faith but also
to smell it, to be drawn from spiritual emptiness,
aromas reminding them how hungry they are
for the more they know exists but cannot
seem to find in the usual holy places, showing them
there is a source, a spiritual diner, cafeteria,
just waiting to feed them
with love and glory of God all their lives.
This the fast to which we are called:
to open our repast to the hungry,
to bring scents of heaven to the outcast,
to feed the lost with the succulent,
never-ending feast of God.

There needs to be more than light, too.  
To see the stars we must be in the dark,
heavens more visible at night,
often a time when divine stillness settles in,
and souls brood in their native habitat,
primordial darkness from which God made, makes, light.
We need to be more than the light,
others need us to share
luminous darkness of our souls
buried deep in first threads of life
where we were created
and in whom we move and have our being.
We need to bring the dark night of our souls
Into the temple, freely, fully, offering ourselves,
letting go of our attachments to things
and places, turning all over to God,
falling in love again with God,
not so much for our sake but for God’s sake.
This the fast to which we are called:
to go to our deepest, darkest places
and know how lovable we are,
how lovable all are,
stars shining in darkest heaven
right here on earth, world without end.

 
writing+poetryAbout this poem: Sometimes it feels that Jesus’ words have become such spiritual clichés that if we really want to get into them, or for them to get inside us, we have entertain the opposite, or at least the opposite of what we have been taught, pushing against conventional wisdom (just as he so often did). As someone who enjoys cooking, I know the importance of salt, but I also know it is rarely enough to make a savory dish. And light is only half of God’s story, so we need to welcome the dark, not only in nature but also ourselves.
©Robin Gorsline 2016 FaithfulPoetics.net

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