Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 16
Personal Salvation through Jesus Christ Is the Only Wisdom Which Truly Makes Sense in Our Continuing Walk of Faith.
In our Second Reading today, we hear the words of Paul, “…we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory” – words which speak to us today of a new wisdom, a new Law, a new way of living.
And we hear the mind of God – this new way of living – in the words which our Lord gives to us in today’s Gospel. In the days of the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Law, handed down by Moses to God’s chosen people, was designed to guide the Israelites into a closer communion with the God of their Fathers, guiding them to conform their conduct and way of life so as to live in a right relationship with their Creator.
We hear this expressed in our First Reading today from the Book of Sirach, also known as Ecclesiasticus, “If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live.” The author is expressing the fact that the choice between “fire and water”, between “life and death” and “good and evil” is ours to make. And if we do not choose wisely, then the consequence is sin, which we ourselves have brought into this world.
In past meditations, we have reflected upon the concept of free will, and how the misuse of this gift from God by our first parents wounded our relationship with Divine Love, and the consequence of this wound led to what the Church calls a concupiscence, our continual proclivity towards the many different temptations which assault our senses and which can lead to sin.
God, in His Divine Goodness, knew that we would need help in rejecting the wiles of Satan, so He gave us a set of Commandments which would help guide our behavior into knowing and following the will of God in our life here on Earth.
And, as we read in today’s Responsorial Psalm, “Blessed are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who observe his decrees, who seek him with all their heart.”
For you and me today, seeking God with all our heart means to remove from ourselves all that separates us from His Love. It means conforming ourselves to the mind and will of Almighty God, as our faith and our Church teaches us. It does not mean that we give up any sense of our freedom, only that we willingly choose to set aside those thoughts, words and deeds which are irresponsible and harmful to ourselves and to others.
And, in Jesus’ discourse from the Sermon on the Mount, we see this idea presented in today’s Gospel, which is a continuation of His invitation to each one of us, calling us to become “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”, which we heard in last Sunday’s Reading. Today, our Lord is taking us a step further into a better and more complete understanding of this call, and how we are to respond.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill…Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
And then, He gives us four examples of how we are to live in compliance with the will of God, and He begins each example with a statement of the Jewish Law, which is followed by the words, “But I say to you…”, which introduces Jesus’ own teaching. And our Lord’s teaching is one with authority, for He is speaking the very mind of God Himself, as the Only-Begotten Son of the Eternal Father.
In our own journey of life, how many times do we find ourselves falling prey to thoughts, words or acts of anger and impurity? How many of God’s children find themselves failing in their fidelity to vows that have been taken, be they marital or religious? And how many of us feel burdened with the inability or failure to be honest and truthful in all that we say to others?
In other words, do we speak and act with the wisdom of man, which is oftentimes flawed and imperfect, or do we embrace the wisdom of God, a wisdom that is “not… of this age”, a wisdom which is perfect and beyond reproach? For it is a wisdom which invites you and me to be open to and accepting of God’s will, challenging us to live our lives in conformity with the teachings of our faith, teachings which have been passed down through the centuries since the days of the Apostles.
Today, Jesus is inviting each of us to open our heart, our mind and our soul to His Truth. He is inviting us to embrace the wisdom of our Christian faith, not the questionable teachings of false prophets and soothsayers. And they do exist in our day and age, and proselytize in almost every city and town. They have even sadly penetrated the depths of Christ’s Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church!
These voices speak of a “new age” of wisdom, which is a false teaching, and can mislead God’s children, guiding them into the shadows of darkness. They even speak of a lessening of the doctrine of who or who may not receive the Sacred Eucharist, thereby opening the door to heresy and schism.
It is well for us to remember that Jesus once said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” And in another place, we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.”
As we come together in our respective communities to celebrate our faith this Sunday – a new way of living which teaches us to always hold true to that which gives us an endless joy and an enduring hope – may our zeal for Jesus and His Love for us be strengthened and our desire for personal holiness increase, so that, when confronted with a choice between the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of God, we may always choose life over death and good over evil.
For each one of us, both you and me, personal salvation through Jesus Christ is the only wisdom which truly makes sense in our continuing walk of faith!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “…we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7)
- “If you choose you can keep the commandments; it is loyalty to do his will. There are set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are life and death, whichever he chooses shall be given him.” (Sirach 15:15-17)
- “Blessed are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who observe God’s decrees, who seek the LORD with all their heart.” (Psalm 119:1-2)
- “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill…Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17, 19)
- “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
- “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.” (Hebrews 13:8-9a)
- “The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
- “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
- “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” (Romans 11:33)
- “So that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:5)
Prayer for the Day
“Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
enlighten our minds to perceive the mysteries
of the universe in relation to eternity.
“Spirit of right judgment and courage,
guide us and make us firm in our baptismal decision
to follow Jesus’ way of Love.
“Spirit of knowledge and reverence,
help us to see the lasting value of justice
and mercy in our everyday dealings with one another.
May we respect life as we work to solve the problems
of family and nation, economy and ecology.
“Spirit of God, spark our faith,
hope and love into new action each day.
Fill our lives with wonder and awe
in Your Presence which penetrates all creation. Amen.”Prayer of St. Augustine