16Feb 16 February, 2020. 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Theme: Using our gift of freedom. It is not our misdeeds which accuse us before God, but our hearts, fractured and divided as they are. Jesus insists that we go deeper than our external deeds. The vital question is what is going on in our hearts, our thoughts and motivations? The teaching is presented using various examples, presented sometimes with great simplicity, other times with irony and wit.

1st Reading: Sirach 15:15-20

To act well and faithfully is a matter of our own choice

If you choose, you can keep the commandments and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice. He has placed before you fire and water — stretch out your hand for whichever you choose. Before each person are life and death and whichever one chooses will be given.

For great is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power and sees everything; his eyes are on those who fear him and he knows every human action. He has not commanded anyone to be wicked and he has not given anyone permission to sin.

Responsorial: Psalm 118:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34

Response: Happy are they who follow the law of the Lord!

They are happy whose life is blameless,
who follow God’s law!
They are happy those who do his will,
seeking him with all their hearts.

You have laid down your precepts
to be obeyed with care.
May my footsteps be firm
to obey your statutes.

Bless your servant and I shall live
and obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may consider
the wonders of you law.

Teach me the demands of your statutes
and I will keep them to the end.
Train me to observe your law,
to keep it with my heart.

2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:6-10

We can know the power of the cross by the wisdom that comes from God

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,” God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

Gospel: Matthew 5:17-37

We must obey the spirit and not just the letter of the law

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the guard and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

BIBLE

May your words, O Lord be on my lips and in my heart. May they guide me on life’s journey and keep me near to you.


The choices we make

As Sirach says, each person must choose between life and death … and whichever one chooses will be given. The choices we make every day have a life or death quality. Every day we are choosing in one direction or the other.

We all have reasons for the choices we make. Sometimes we are seeking approval and acceptance, wanting to fit in and be liked. We choose based upon the costs, benefits and risks involved. Sometimes we may just give up and refuse to choose. Sometimes we choose power, control, or security. Often our choices are about self-protection or making ourselves feel happier. Or we might choose to make another feel bad, and attempt to get back at him or her; or more positively, we may choose to make amends and make up.

Our experience of making choices brings us back to our reading from Sirach. There is one fundamental choice to be made — the choice between life and death. Where will I spend eternity? The choice that really matters in the end is between life and death. This ultimate criterion should affect all other choices. What good does it profit a person to gain the whole world, and lose ones soul? (cf Mark 8:36)

Bringing this to an everyday level: could our daily lifestyle be described as life-giving? Do we choose to help sustain and nurture life for ourselves and others? Or do we choose to diminish or ignore the good of others? Do we try to make our world a better place? While Jesus sets us a very high standard, Sirach claims that we can keep the commandments if we really want to. Both readings call us to evaluate our habitual ways of choosing.

The Sermon on the Mount offers high moral ideals, not a set of firm commandments. Jesus forbids not merely murder but also lesser forms of injuring others. The importance of forgiveness is so great that it comes before strictly religious duties. He tells us “leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your neighbour.” We must respect not simply people’s right to life but also their right to dignity and self-respect.

The prohibition of oaths is not taken literally in Christian countries, where oaths are taken in a courts of law. But in a perfect society characterised by trust and truth-telling, oaths should not be needed to reinforce our words. Jesus promoted an atmosphere of openness and trust. What he offers as a supplement to the Law of Moses is a morality of values held from the heart.

An féidir maireachtáil de réir a ndeirtear sa soiscéal?

Ceist géar a phléitear inniu ná an féidir maireachtáil de réir a ndeirtear sa soiscéal. Cuireadh fadhb dá leithéid ar Íosa, a thug mar fhreagra: “Tá an uile ní sodhéanta ag Dia” (Matha 19:26). Ní freagra cruinn don ceiste é seo, ach ábhar machnaimh in aon phlé faoin gceist. Nuair atá rúndiamhair an tsoiscéil i gceist, in aon phlé ní féidir grásta Dé a fhágaint as an áireamh. (Máirtín Mac Conmara)


4 Responses

  1. Thara Benedicta

    Key message:

    ‘Before man is life and death, good and evil, that which he shall choose shall be given him’.
    The only way to choose the ‘life’ option is, walking according to God’s words.

    Homily:
    In the first reading, we read that ‘Before man is life and death, good and evil, that which he shall choose shall be given him’.
    Here it is written that God gives an option to choose between life and death. And whatever we choose is what will be given to us.
    This is the simplest question ever asked – to choose between life and death. But most of us choose ‘death’ deliberately.
    Whole of Bible says ‘when we walk according to will of God, God will prosper us’. Even if we are caught up in a troublesome situation, God will make us come out of the situation.
    We see mother Mary instructing the same in the marriage at Cannan. When there was a problematic situation – wine was less during the marriage ceremony. Mother Mary says ‘Do whatever He tells you’. The servants obeyed Lord Jesus and the problem was solved.

    In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus instructs how to walk in the will of God. He instructs on how to respond when in anger, forgiveness, lust and speaking truth always. Let’s go over them.

    Anger:
    Jesus says that if we call our brother ‘fool’ angrily that is sufficient to loose heaven.
    Once when you realize that anger rises up in your body, do not explode it in form of words.
    Never decorate your anger feeling with words or actions. It can be disastrous.
    First you will lose your peace. Next you may lose the person.
    There are 3 types of anger:
    1. Instantaneous anger
    a. Anger when someone does to you something to you, unintentionally.
    This anger will not be there for a life time, but will go away.
    b. Example – someone hits your car or your child irritates you.
    c. Your response to the situation:
    Do not blurt out with angry words, offer it to God.
    Focus on what needs to be done and smile it away.

    2. Anger in unrighteous situations:
    a. Anger when you meditate on the unrighteous things that happened to you.
    b. Example – thinking repeatedly about how you were brutally treated or how much you were ignored or how much you were cursed by others or how much people ill-treated you because you did not have a baby or did not have a good job or did not have good dresses etc..
    c. Your response to the situation:
    i. Stop focusing on how much you have suffered.
    ii. Think about how God Jesus was crucified on the cross unjustly and God gave Him victory!! Similarly God will give you victory
    iii. Never take revenge. Because vindication is Lord’s part.
    iv. Is there any place in Bible, which says God will not take care of his children in trouble times?
    v. Recall God’s promises for your situation, for example if you are without job – meditate on the verse – ‘God will make me the head and not the tail’ and so on..
    vi. Its better to focus on God’s promise and be hopeful rather than focus on bitter situations and be hopeless.
    vii. God rewarded father Abraham’s faith with a baby boy when he was around 100 years.
    viii. Always remember – nothing is impossible for Almighty God who is our dear Father.

    3. Anger on self –
    a. Anger on yourself when you feel you have not done your best
    b. Example – you have not taken care of your parents well, you should have not responded to your anger earlier, anger due to over stress and so on..
    c. Your response to the situation:
    i. This anger is majorly due to self-realization of one of our own faults in our life.
    ii. Remember that our God is a forgiving God. So first ask for forgiveness to God, pray to God to give you the courage to ask pardon and to rectify the damage caused – either by asking directly sorry to the other person or mending the damage like Zaccheaus in Bible (once he repented, he mended it bac – if he had taken money from people, he returned it bac four times).
    iii. Change your daily life pattern to accommodate relaxation time for yourself. The more relaxed you are, the lesser opportunities for getting into anger.
    iv. Learn to say ‘No’ when you need to in the beginning itself.

    Forgiveness:
    Peter asked Jesus, ‘how many times should I forgive my brother who sins against me?’ Jesus replied ‘ I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!’. – It means always forgive.
    Forgiveness is ‘letting it go’. Not having anger, bitterness, and resentment towards the person who has hurt you. If you are forgiving others, you are providing peace for yourself. You will be God’s ambassador of love for all.
    Tips to forgive:
    1. Remember to forgive all, when we pray ‘Our Father’.
    Jesus taught us to pray ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’. So it’s a necessity for us to forgive other’s sins in order for our sins to be forgiven.
    2. Forgiveness provides us the visa for entering Heaven. As we forgive other’s sins, God will forgive our sins. Take it as an action item for preparing for our future in heaven.
    3. When Jesus died to obtain expiation for our sins. Why can’t we live and forgive other’s sins.
    4. One of Jesus’s last words were – ‘Father forgive them ‘. Even when He was brutally tortured, He forgave everyone who were torturing Him to death. But before He died, He remembered to forgive them. After He pleaded for forgiveness only, He said ‘Its finished’.

    Lust:
    1. Its very important to have goal for your life and focus on it.
    King David who was so close to God had fallen into trap of lust when he was walking on during the day – not during his work. If your mind is idle, it may become devil’s workshop
    2. Cut the opportunities for lust at its bud. You can have many social friends, but do not have close friends of the opposite sex.
    3. Train your children to go in the right path from the beginning. A father who spares the rod, spoils the child.
    Truth:
    1. Jesus said let your words be ‘’Yes for Yes’ and ‘No for No’. Everything else is evil’. Take this as a guidance for all your talks.
    2. Do not manipulate your words so that it may be become advantageous to you and disadvantageous to someone else. God hates manipulation
    3. God is truth. He desires us to be also truthful in our lives.

    Let’s do whatever Jesus says and our life will be filled with consolation and peace!!

  2. Kevin Walters

    “Not one iota will pass from the law until all is accomplished”, we ‘all’ fall short in regards to this teaching, which can only be embraced in
    humility, as humility permits us to walk His Way in the ‘generosity’ of His Divine Mercy. We can align God’s generosity with… “Who Is Forgiven Much Loves Much”. … On the other hand, those who are forgiven little, as Jesus said, “love little”…

    When God’s Generosity/Mercy/pardon is received in humility/honesty it compels us to pardon (Be less judgemental towards) others, as it goes to the heart of our faith, which is that Christ forgives, that we may love (Forgive) also, while we walk in ‘humility’ before Him, wanting for others that which we have been given ourselves, His known gift of Divine Mercy, because is that not what Christianity is all about.

    If we struggle with love/forgiveness for others, it could be said that this rigidity stems from our own dishonest ungrateful hearts, as this attitude emanates from self-righteousness, as possibly we underestimated the generosity of Jesus Christ in our own personal salvation; as to attempt to embrace our Father in the Truth of His Inviolate Word/Will (‘One Iota’) can only be accomplished in humility (Self-abasement before Him)

    A faith that does not embody this consistent realization, will be sterile, comparable a stylus stuck in the grove of a record, as the heart will not hear/absorb the full transforming message of Spiritual enlightenment, that is the ‘ongoing’ transformation of the human heart. I know this from personal experience, because my own heart was stuck in a grove over so many years.

    Is it not in the self-knowledge of our own individual need of His ‘continual’ Mercy that induces within us a humble heart, as a human heart of self- abasement before God, creates a tender compassionate heart towards our neighbour?

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  3. Gabriel Guckian

    Just to say how perceptive and practical were the observations and hints by Thara Benedicta in the Response 1. There might be one or two typos eg. to loose = lose? heaven in the text, but a really great and positive contribution. Thank You

  4. Pádraig McCarthy

    It must have seemed an impossible challenge to the disciples. The scribes and the Pharisees were the public face of the faithful practice of the people of Israel, to which the ordinary uneducated people could never aspire, and yet Jesus calls them and us to virtue even deeper.

    “But I say to you …” – Jesus points to where the sin begins. The “anger” is not just a feeling of irritation or hurt; it is the wrath that will not relent until the other person has been made to suffer.
    We have an example of how the process grows in how the initial marginalization of people in Nazi Germany began with defining certain categories (eg people with genetic conditions which are inheritable) as lives not worth living, then as a burden and a threat to the state, and finally as vermin to be exterminated. What were the beginnings of the process which led to recent murders even with dismemberment of the victim as a degradation and humiliation?

    Threats and legislation may mitigate such behaviour. For Jesus, the final solution is in a change of heart – metanoia. The solution is a love which inspires and motivates and gives us the strength to follow Jesus.

    Many will say that this is hopelessly idealistic and unrealistic. Many will never even hear the words. But if we who are disciples, members of the living Body of Christ today, live that life, then people will see, and, in seeing, will know the reality in those words. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth.

    The challenge continues next Sunday in what may seem the ultimate impossibility: love your enemies! Live as the children of our Father in heaven: live the life infused into us by the Spirit at Baptism.


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