Reading 1 Sir 15:15-20
If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;
if you trust in God, you too shall live;
he has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Immense is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power, and all-seeing.
The eyes of God are on those who fear him;
he understands man’s every deed.
No one does he command to act unjustly,
to none does he give license to sin.
The Commandments will save you. Imagine that. Listening to what God says to do.
May people think the Commandments are too difficult, they’re God’s way of being in control of us and stopping us from having fun. They are there not as a fence to keep us in the field but as a guardrail to keep us falling off the edge. I like that it says “if you choose” because free will is a gift. God never forces us to follow Him; it is a decision we make willingly or not at all. This also means that if we choose the bad and evil, it is us to blame, not Him. This is not to say God is okay with us choosing evil. He demands good, but He leaves it up to us. God loves when we follow Him, and He provides for our good. He’s watching out for us and knows everything we do. He comprehends our intentions and our heart and takes the time specifically to understand our deeds. We often tend to think He is too big or too distant to understand our smallness and the details of our lives. That is just not the case. He knows every hair on our heads and every lash on our eyes. He pays attention to us and what we must do is trust. Only then shall we live, feel fully alive. Many people just go through the motions and make it through each day, pushing fears behind and getting things done to just get them over with, no purpose. We all strive for that meaning and pure bliss that comes from knowing the Lord intimately. The key is trust, trusting His promises and recognizing how real His power is.
Reading 2 1 Cor 2:6-10
Brothers and sisters:
We speak a wisdom to those who are mature,
not a wisdom of this age,
nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.
Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
and which none of the rulers of this age knew;
for, if they had known it,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
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.
For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.
No matter how smart and intelligent people think they are with degrees and letters behind their names, none of it compares to the wisdom of God. The wisdom that came before us and before humanity is not of any of the rulers of this day. We tend to idolize those who are smart and put them on a pedestal just because we think they have the answers. Why would I want a “wisdom” that comes from humans; this wisdom is finite and incomplete. There is something attractive about mysterious, and to this I am drawn in. The reinstates the fact that the leaders of today still need to be humbled as the King stands His ground. We should all want something beyond hearing and sight because this means it is sublime and powerful. This wisdom is for our glory. Again God being so selfless and thinking of us before all ages and then again to reveal through the Spirit. It is amazing to know that the same Spirit that scrutinizes the depths of God lives inside of us. If that does not make you shout for joy, I do not know what does. The Spirit carries this wisdom, and we must use it, not tuck it away. How awful it would be to do the things we never should do, like those that crucified Jesus, due to lack of attention to the infinite wisdom so freely given and worked for.
Gospel Mt 5:17-37
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
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.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment;
and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin;
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’
will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.
“It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife – unless the marriage is unlawful –
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.
But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”
I would never want to be called the least in the Kingdom. We must obey God’s commands and encourage others to do the same. I am thinking now of the times I may have led people away from instead of closer to God, and it is not a good feeling. Sometimes we can just be in the moment but do not realize the effects it has on the people after, whether that is in lust, anger, greed, or jealousy. In every moment, we should be choosing what God wants because it shows how much we love Him. Obeying is also rewarding because God’s promises will be fulfilled when we follow His path for us, and He is constantly working for our good. All we have to do is accept it. When people meet us, they should be meeting Christ.
We may have sins that we commit randomly, but many people have that sin that they cannot get away from: getting drunk all the time, gossiping, stealing, being risqué….The list goes on, but this reading tells us that whatever causes us to sin, cut off. Now I understand the language is intense, but it must be looked at figuratively. If you know what the trigger is to cause you to fall, be done with it. Take preventative measures to take you far away from that sin. Maybe too much alcohol causes you to sleep around; limit your intake. Possibly working too much causes you to become bitter and mistreat your family; cut out some hours. Whatever the source of temptation may be needs to be destroyed because nothing is so great that it should make you hurt your relationship with God. Nothing is worth that.
God is calling us to go above and beyond in our service to Him. It is not enough to be able to say we did not kill. We must be aware and not even let our anger overcome us. Likewise He says that even if a man looks at another woman with lust, it is adultery. Commitment to God needs to be radical, extreme, and dynamic. We can always do more, be more. We cannot just follow some rules and think that is where we can stop because then we will plateau. Sin should also not be about getting as close to the line as we can and then stopping; it should be about moving and running as far away from the line as possible. For the do not kill example, it seems easy not to kill, but do we kill others’ reputations with gossip or slander? Do we hurt others with words we say to them? Do not stop at the bare minimum or even at a good place. Go to the max and try to be perfect as God is perfect.