6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – Homily

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Sirach 15:15-20
Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34
1 Corinthians 2:6-10
Matthew 5:17-37
February 12, 2017

Sirach reminds the people “If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you, if you trust in God, you too shall live.

We live in a society where many people don’t like rules.  It’s not just a matter of objecting to certain rules, we can all do that.  These people to whom I refer don’t want any rules.

Sirach’s words remind the people that God did not give the commandments for his own good or to be cruel.  God gave the commandments to help us and that we might have eternal life.

With commandments like thou shall not steal, we should realize that we need rules like this so we don’t have to live in constant fear of our things being stolen.

Likewise, commandments like not bearing false witness are necessary.  We need to be able to trust others to live in community.

Yet, many in Jesus’ days, had made following the commandments a matter of “law” rather than being good disciples.  As such, the Law became a burden to many.

Paul was one of those who was strict in his interpretation and following of the commandments.  However, from his conversion experience, he came to realize a new way of living, “life in the spirit.”

It won’t be hard to take what Paul says about “life in the spirit” rather than the Law to mean the Law of the Old Testament is abolished.  There are people who live that way today.

However, that is going too far.  The Law is still good.  We know this because Jesus himself says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.

Jesus brings us a new understanding the Law.  Everything the Law says has been and is still good but Jesus wants us to understand the purpose of the Law and its intent.

We all have free will.  We can choose between good and evil.  The Law is meant to help us know what is good vs. evil.  It is here that Jesus leads us to a deeper understanding of the commandments.

For example, Jesus begins by referring to the commandment against killing.  This is a basic rule in societies.  Jesus takes it a step further when He says that we shouldn’t even be angry.  Anger can lead to killing.  Yet, anger can seem so natural to us.  What’s wrong with getting upset when somebody does something wrong to us?

It may seem natural to get angry but that doesn’t make it right.  When we hold onto the anger, we push out love and that means we push out God.  We can’t always stop angry thoughts from coming but we can work on controlling what we do with (how much we hold onto) the anger.

Likewise, Jesus takes the commandment against adultery and says if we even look at another person with lust, we sin.  Again, it might seem natural to have the thought but the problem is when we dwell on lustful thoughts, we are objectifying the person as an object of pleasure rather than as a person.

Jesus then tells us, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.”  This seems really radical.  Before we actually do this, ask yourself, does your eye cause you to sin?  If our sin is lust, our eye might be involved in the sin but it doesn’t cause the sin.  We can have lustful thoughts without ever seeing a person.  The lust comes from within our desires.

Again we can’t stop a lustful thought from coming into our head but we can work to control what we do with the thought once we realize it is there.  This can be difficult.  Since coming to St. Michael’s, when I face temptation and struggle to resist, I find myself praying for God’s help against the temptation and ask for him to send St. Michael, who defeated the dragon, to my aid.

Lastly, Jesus speaks about taking oaths.  Why we do we ask people to take oaths?  Because we do not know if we cannot trust them.  It might be because they have lied to us in the past or because others have lied to us.  If we all mean what we say, then we trust each other.  “Let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’

Getting back to the Law, following the Law is measured by our actions.  Our actions can be reveal what is in our hearts.  It is our hearts that God looks at.  God knows the thoughts we have.  So, let us pray that God instruct us in his ways and help us discern how we are to live loving Jesus with all our hearts.

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