Saturday, February 15, 2014
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sir 15: 15-20 / Ps 119: 1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34 (1b) / 1 Cor 2: 6-10 / Mt 5: 17-37 or 5:20-22a, 27-28, 33-34, 37
First Reading: Sir 15:15-20
If you wish, you can keep the commandments, and it is in your power to remain faithful. God has set fire and water before you; you stretch out your hand to whichever you prefer. Life and death are set before man: whichever a man prefers will be given to him. How magnificent is the wisdom of the Lord! He is powerful and all-seeing. His eyes are on those who fear him. He knows all the works of man. He has commanded no one to be godless and has given no one permission to sin.
Second Reading: 1Cor 2:6-10
In fact, we do speak of wisdom to the mature in faith, although it is not a wisdom of this world or of its rulers, who, by the way, come to nothing. We teach the mystery and secret plan of divine wisdom, which God destined from the beginning to bring us to Glory. No ruler of this world ever knew this; otherwise they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But as Scripture says: Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it dawned on the mind what God has prepared for those who love him. God has revealed it to us, through his Spirit, because the Spirit probes everything, even the depth of God.
Gospel: Mt 5:17-37
Do not think that I have come to remove the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to remove but to fulfill them. I tell you this: as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or stroke of the Law will change until all is fulfilled. So then, whoever breaks the least important of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be least in the kingdom of Heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys them and teaches others to do the same will be great in the kingdom of Heaven. I tell you, then, that if you are not righteous in a better way than the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter into the kingdom of Heaven. "You have heard that it was said to our people in the past: Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial. But now I tell you: whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial. Whoever insults his brother or sister deserves to be brought before the council; whoever calls a brother or a sister "Fool" deserves to be thrown into the fires of hell. So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make your peace with him, and then come back and offer your gift to God. You have heard that it was said: Do not commit adultery. But I tell you this, anyone who looks at a woman to satisfy his lust has in fact already committed adultery with her in his heart. You have also heard that people were told in the past: Do not break your oath; an oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this: Do not take an oath for any promise. Do not swear by the heavens, for they are God's throne. Say yes when you mean yes, and say no when you mean no. Anything else you say comes from the devil.
In the fulfillment of his mission, was Jesus a strict observer of the law or was he a breaker of the law? The law, of course, was the law handed down by Moses. Jesus had said to his disciples that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. And yet time and time again the religious leaders of his day complained that Jesus was not following all of the prescriptions of the law as they interpreted it. Jesus seemed to go against the law by curing the sick on the Sabbath and thus was not observing the law of the Sabbath. By sitting down with sinners and sharing meals with them, Jesus was violating the law as the law was interpreted by the religious leaders. When Jesus approached the Samaritan woman at the well and asked her to give him a drink, he was going against the interpretation of the law that was generally observed by the "law abiding" Jews of his time. Jesus and his disciples were criticized by the Pharisees because they did not carefully follow the religious prescriptions about washing their hands before eating and other such prescriptions.
Someone might get the impression that Jesus was a habitual law breaker and that he did not respect the law. And yet Jesus insisted that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Was Jesus consistent? How does Jesus want us to understand his message of today's gospel passage? Can we put together what may seem to be a contradiction between what Jesus said and how he acted?
The apparent contradiction is resolved by a very important distinction with regard to religious laws: the distinction between the external letter of laws and the internal spirit of laws. Observance of the mere external letter of the law without paying attention to the inner meaning of the law may seem to be a correct observance of the law, but actually it is to violate the law by not observing the purpose of the law.
That is why Jesus speaks to us in today's gospel reading not just about observing the law or laws but about fulfilling the law. Yes, Jesus has come not to abolish the law but to live the law according to its real meaning. That is what is meant by fulfilling the law. And it is in that sense that Jesus tells us that our holiness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees. They were very much concerned about following all the rules and regulations externally, but they were not so concerned about observing the spirit which gives the real meaning of the law. So, with a very clear conscience, Jesus was able to understand that not all laws and regulations are of equal importance. Surely he would follow even many external prescriptions of the law, but whenever there was a conflict between the less important observance and the more important observance - which is the observance of love - he would fulfill the law by observing the supreme law of love.
A scribe once asked Jesus about the most important law, and Jesus affirmed that the one law of love of God and of neighbour is the fulfillment of all the prescriptions of the law and the prophets. Yes, Jesus was consistent! And Jesus tells us today that we will be known as his disciples by the love we have for one another.
We pray ...
... for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn.
... for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
... for families who are in need of healing
... for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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