February 9, 2020 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Deacon Steve Whiteman

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 IS 58:7-10

Responsorial Psalm PS 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
His justice shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
Reading 2 1 COR 2:1-5
Alleluia JN 8:12

Gospel MT 5:13-16
 9 Feb 2020           The sky is not falling

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
When our kids were young, they would pick out books for Christy and I to read to them at bedtime. Some of the books got tiresome to read, but one book I always enjoyed reading was Chicken Little.

You may remember Chicken Little, a centuries old fable about a gullible baby chick who thought the sky was falling when an acorn hit her on the head. Chicken Little got so upset that she caused a scare in her group of feathered friends. Henny Penny, Cocky Locky and Goosey Poosey all became convinced the sky was falling and their panic nearly took them into the fox’s trap.

Our Psalm for today reminded me of Chicken Little. Chicken Little seems to be the exact opposite of the “just man” in Ps 112 who is “a light in the darkness”. This righteous man will not fear an “evil report”. “His heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear.”

What struck me the most about the righteous man in our Psalm is his confidence in the Lord. “He will not fear bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

His great faith is not the result of a trouble-free life. He is able to confidently deal with the troubles in life because of his great faith.

Let me say that again:

His great faith is not the result of a trouble-free life. He is able to confidently deal with the troubles in life because of his great faith.

The righteous man in our Psalm seems to be everything that Chicken Little is not.

So how do we avoid the fear and drama of Chicken Little?

How do we achieve a confident faith like the righteous man in our Psalm?

It’s easy to say we want to have a stronger faith but our faith is gift from God that requires us to be open to it and embrace it. It’s a decision we must make everyday to follow God’s will and not our own.

The righteous man in Ps112 likely developed his great faith over the course of many years. Like many of us, he may have gained valuable experience from mistakes in his life when he trusted in himself more than he trusted in God.

Chicken Little is a children’s story, but like all fables, there are morals to the story that are relevant today. As we build on our own life lessons and grow in faith, we can also try to learn from the mistakes of others. The lovable characters in this story were obviously gullible and over reacted. They let raw emotions rule their behavior and would have been easy prey for the fox who was looking for dinner if they had not been rescued.

Unfortunately, the fox in this story is very real and very present in our everyday lives. Darkness and evil have existed in our world since Adam and Eve. The devil is always ready to pull us away from God, especially in times of great difficulty. Like the Pied Piper, he would like to distract us from our faith and lead us over the edge of a cliff. I’m often reminded of this image when I realize I have been taken in by some “fake news” or blindly follow my GPS to a dead end.

The Good News is that the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus has won the war for us against death and the devil. The devil would like to engage us in an earthly battle but like the just man in our Psalm today, we don’t need to fear evil if our heart is firm and trust in the Lord.

Our readings today also challenge us to be an example of faith for others. In a world where there are so many distractions, one of the best ways to share our faith is to be an example of stability. If we use our faith to guide our daily actions, we can model a consistent behavior for our family and friends. This is especially important for parents and grandparents.

If someone sounding like Chicken Little runs across our path, there may be more people than we realize that watch our response. A faith-based response during a crisis can speak volumes about our confidence in God.

As we come to share the Light of Christ in the Eucharist, let us pray to be more open to His gift of faith and share this with confidence to those around us.