Choose to Learn
Greetings on this the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: SIR 15:15-20; PS 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34; 1 COR 2:6-10; MT 5:17-37 OR 5:20-22A, 27-28, 33-34A, 37
Can’t Escape the Message
It’s a challenge these weeks in the readings of the Church and next week too! During the week we step through the Gospel of Mark chapters 7 and 8. On Sundays we have been stepping through the Gospel of Matthew chapter 5:13ff. The message is clear and compelling.
What we do matters.
The readings in total show a lot of variety on how we can get off the path of right living (righteousness) and find ourselves alienated from each other and from God. Sometimes what we think is a good idea is actually an overburden for ourselves and others. Sometimes what we think is OK and excusable instead Jesus says, um, nope.
The Book of Sirach says it well: If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you.
But, how, Lord, can we, keep the law?
Jesus said the law and the warnings of the prophets is not revoked and remains in force.
Jesus does reframe the law in a way that challenges us to think anew. Obedience to the law of love requires we rethink everything we have been taught and everything we have come to practice.
In fact I heard this comment from a professor at the Seminary once that was a startling data point. He said, even as we train priests the clearest of theological thought, precise liturgical practice, interiorization of the Sacramental life and techniques on how to be a good pastor and Shepherd…. Some priests fall back to whatever their Mommy taught them when they were little. Usually within five years. Startling, yes?
So it’s safe to say, it’s a common problem.
What is at Risk
What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit (1 Corr 2:9). The peace and tranquility of living in harmony with Christ is a way of life at risk. We need to find our way through obedience to the law of love.
Jesus brings us a common rabbinical practice. Jesus built a fence around the Torah.
A Fence Around the Torah
In today’s readings Jesus demonstrates the use of concentric boundaries (fences) around your soul and around your actions so as to avoid the constant possibility of escalating from innocence to sinful to mortally sinful. Examples:
- Fence Don’t Kill with a new skill – Don’t be angry with your Brother.
- Fence You fool/Fiery Gehenna with a new skill – go first reconcile with your Brother before bringing your gifts.
- Fence Adultery with a new skill – do not lust after women.
This technique applies to all the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel reading today.
It is a new way or an old way relearned – avoid the mortal sins by practicing the avoidance of venial sins.
Learning to Ride a Bike
Did you learn how to ride a bicycle?
Did you have a good mentor?
If you did learning to ride a bike was a sheer joy. Riding a bike can be tricky and difficult at first but really fun and liberating.
When you keep command of yourself the going is good. When you begin poor practices, well, you fall down.
(Children’s Mass – story of learning to ride a bike).
If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you.
Peace be with you,