3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
January 26, 2014
Why did Jesus come into our human world? Why would Jesus who is consubstantial with the Father be willing to give up being in Heaven to become one like us?
Hopefully, we all immediately think of Jesus’ death on the Cross for us. Jesus’ mission is ultimately fulfilled in his Crucifixion (and Resurrection) but it didn’t begin there.
Today’s gospel is from the fourth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel but it is really the kickoff off point as the first time Jesus ministers to others. Chapters one and two speak of his birth. Chapter three moves us into his baptism but it is today’s passage that tells us of Jesus’ first ministry.
It’s only eleven verses but hits the key elements of Jesus’ ministry. We hear that he cures people but before that he first begins to gather disciples. Even before that he preaches.
Jesus comes to reveal God’s truth to us. What Jesus says is important.
How do we receive his preaching? It isn’t enough just to hear Jesus’ words to the multitudes. It isn’t enough to come to church and listen to the words.
Think of it like a doctor’s visit. When we are not feeling well we go to the doctor. If we have a specific illness, the doctor might prescribe a medicine and we get better.
Sometimes our complaints to the doctor may not be so simple. In my case, my doctor keeps telling me to lose weight (like I need the doctor to tell me that). He tells me the reasons I should lose weight and gives me ideas on to do it.
Then I go home and I don’t lose much weight. Why? Because I didn’t change anything! I keep eating the same and walking the same amount.
It isn’t enough for me just to listen to the doctor say words of advice. I need to put them into action if I expect anything to get better. Sometimes we make conscious choices about this stuff like when my doctor suggested a meatless diet and my immediate choice was no! Other times, we know the advice is good but we just don’t put into action. With diet, will power with desserts and candy comes to mind here.
The same is true with Jesus’ preaching. Without a doubt, everything Jesus teaches us in his preaching is good. But it isn’t enough just to hear the words. We need to make changes in our lives to live in accord with Jesus’ words.
Sometimes we don’t do what Jesus says because we make a choice for an immediate earthly pleasure over the eternal joy of Heaven because we want an immediate result.
Sometimes what Jesus says may not seem reasonable. He speaks of the commandment not to kill and tells us not to even get angry. We understand not killing, well in general, people want to argue about what is and isn’t life, but we might think to not get angry is impossible. It seems so natural.
So, since it seems impossible, we might figure why bother or we might make excuses that Jesus must have meant something else.
After all, we only get angry because somebody else did something wrong, right? If they had just do it right, we won’t have gotten angry so it’s their fault.
Sometimes it’s not that someone always does something wrong. Sometimes we get angry because someone doesn’t do what we want.
Besides, as long as we don’t hurt someone what is wrong with being angry?
Anger is always bad because it stands in the way of love. Anger takes over.
Anger is just one example of how Jesus calls us to live. We can “ignore” Jesus’ teaching on other things today. Some people debate what in the Bible applies today.
We can end up divided in groups. This is nothing new. Paul writes to the Corinthians to instruct them to stop dividing into factions. Paul instructs them to be united in the same mind and the same purpose.
But whose mind? When we are trying to decide right and wrong, who makes the determination? Psychologists can explain why a person steals, gets angry, drinks, or commits bad sexual acts. The fact that the psychologist can explain it doesn’t make it right.
Logical arguments can be made for the death penalty. That doesn’t make it right.
People make arguments about life in the womb and at the end of life. Majority rule doesn’t make it right or wrong.
God defines what is good. Jesus reveals to us in his preaching what is good. How well do we listen and do we put it into action in our lives?