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6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Sirach 15:15-20
1 Corinthians 2:6-10
Matthew 5:17-37
February 16, 2014

Jesus told his disciples that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.

It might have been nice if he had abolished the Law.  The history of the Law and the people is clear, it often wasn’t followed.  There are a few reasons it wasn’t often followed.

Sometimes it was a person’s choice.  Some knew what the Law said but did what they wanted, ignoring the law.  Some didn’t understand the Law and broke it.  Some tried to follow the law but found it too hard.

For any of these, it would have been simplest to abolish the Law.  That isn’t the case.  The Law comes from God and is good.

Jesus doesn’t come to change the Law.  He doesn’t need to.  Jesus tells us that he comes to fulfill the Law.  He comes to help us understand what the Law is all about.

God does not give us the Law to suit his needs.  God is an infinite God and does not need us to tend to his needs. God gives the Law not for his good but for ours.  Why would God do this?  Because he loves us.

In Sirach we hear, if you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you.  When we break the commandments bad things happen.  When we follow the commandments good things happen.  The good or the bad are not simply God’s retribution or reward, they often follow directly from what we do.

That’s why God gives us the commandments.  Knowing God does this for our good, we place our trust in him.  In reading the Old Testament, we can see how when the people followed the commandments, they prospered.  When they turned away from the commandments, things turned bad quickly.

That alone should be enough to show us that we can trust in God.  However, as Christians we have a further sign that we can trust in God.  Jesus’ Crucifixion reveals to us that God’s love has no limits.  God is totally committed to doing what is good for us.

All this being said we are free to choose to follow the commandments or to follow another way.  I pray that we all choose to follow God’s commandments.

So far I have only talked in terms of either following God’s commandments or not.  If only it were so black and white!

I’ve already mentioned that sometimes when people break the commandments it is because we don’t understand.  Sometimes we just want it very clear what the rules are and we also want to do the minimum amount necessary.

Jesus was not a minimalist.  In fact, he expands the commandments.  Thou shall not kill!  Jesus says don’t even get angry.  Thou shall not commit adultery!  Jesus says don’t even look at another person in that way.    Thou shall not bear a false oath!  Jesus says you should not have to make an oath because you should always mean what you say so people will trust you without asking for an oath.

Jesus reveals to us what the Law is truly about, loving God and loving our neighbor so we can take what we have learned in the commandments and apply it to life today.

Some people say that if it isn’t specifically in the Bible we are free to do whatever we want.  We are always free to do whatever we want but that doesn’t mean we should.

I don’t think it is reasonable to expect everything to be covered word for word in the Bible.  It was written 2,000 years ago.  God would have known what the world would be like today but if Jesus tried the people 2,000 years ago about things like the medical technology we have today, they would have thought him nuts.

That’s why Jesus sought to teach the disciples what the Law is about.  It’s also why Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit, to help us interpret the Law as it applies in our world today.

Some say that the Catholic Church has added to the teachings of Jesus.  The Catholic Church, our church, does not seek to add anything to Jesus’ teaching.  What our Church has done throughout the ages is to try and help us apply Jesus’ teachings to everyday life.

We should never see the Law as a burden.  It is a gift God has given us that we might live a good life in peace and harmony.

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