My fish tank emergency and a lesson it teaches us: A homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

imageuploadedbyfish-lore-aquarium-fish-forum1411783561-881667This past Tuesday, I had a fish tank emergency. I noticed that things were getting a little dirty in the tank, so I decided to investigate. I opened up the back of the fish tank, where the filters are. I was not prepared for what I found. It was a hot mess in there. It was filled with muddy, icky waters and smells. So I called over my friend Diane Maddox to help. She brought some new filters. After looking on the filter box, we came to realize that one is supposed to change the fish tank filter about once every two to four weeks. Now, I hadn’t done this for six months! So we proceeded to take the dirty filters out. Then, as I was taking the second one out, Diane yelled, “Father! Look at the water!!” The water was all black and brown. I thought my fish were goners! Fortunately, after a little irrigation and some other emergency measures, everything ended up ok. There were no casualties, thanks be to God.

Sometimes, I think the world we live in, is kind of a like a poo-filled fish tank. There seems to be so much darkness, yuckiness in the world. There is violence and anger, just plain meanness, there is consumerism and lust, backstabbing and retribution, there is a lack of kindness and concern. Now I’m not one to be gloom and doom, but I am saying that it seems like there are a lot of things that make the fish tank we live in a little dark sometimes. Or really dark.

In the face of that darkness, God tells us: Be the light! In our first reading, he says this: “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn.” In other words, the Lord gives us a litany of good things to do, things that help us to lend a little light to the poo-filled tank we live in. Jesus tells us in the Gospel, too, to be the light. Let your light shine, he says. And in doing that we clean the tank, restore its beauty, its glory….we bring it light!

That is wild! We have the power to bring light to darkness. You know, it’s a funny thing, light: even a small, dim light can extinguish a lot of darkness. I can think of many times when my words seemed inadequate, my actions small; but no matter how small my light feels, so long as I bring it out it expels darkness.

But here’s another thing: the light we seek to spread in the poo-filled tank of our world is not ours! We don’t make our own light; we can’t! As the wise Billy Joel said, “we didn’t start the fire.” Jesus is the light, he is the fire! When we are baptized, our parents and godparents receive a light from the pascal candle, which represents Jesus, and the priest tells them: “This light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly in the heart of this child.” As we grow older, it becomes more our job to stir it up, fan the flame, and spread the light of Christ to everyone! May each of us do his part.