Readings: Sir 15:15-20; I Cor. 2:6-10; Mt. 5:17-37
Choosing wisely and living by the values of the kingdom are the key phrases that help to focus on the message of this Sunday. The first reading from the Book of Sirach uses the word “choice” three times, and once the phrase “the wisdom of the Lord.” The opening verse of the passage says, “If you choose, you can keep the commandments, they will save you.” The point seems to be that the wisdom of the Lord calls us to choose life, reminding us that life and death are set before us. The choice therefore is up to us. God gives us both freedom and responsibility. The wise choose life, not death; they choose love, peace and forgiveness not hate and revenge. Choice is always before us: choosing to relate with others wisely by respecting boundaries. Paul in the second reading describes this choice in terms of either human wisdom or God’s wisdom. If we choose God’s wisdom, we become the best version of ourselves; we live by the values of the kingdom. When we choose human wisdom we end up being foolish and blaming ourselves. We end up by being the worst versions of ourselves.
In the Gospel, Jesus continues his teaching on the mountain. He addresses several moral issues. I will concentrate on two: murder and marital relations. On the issue of murder, Jesus calls us to choose to be persons of peace and compassion or to be persons of violence. We are told that murder is like an eruption of a volcano that begins with anger in the heart. Violence begins within a person who is hurting. To be a person of peace and compassion means being a person of forgiveness. Unless one forgives, anger continues to build up until it erupts. It may take years or months, but some day it will blow up, burning anyone near that person. That is why it is so important to fight every tendency that results in murder, namely our anger, our hatred, our grudges, our hurts of the past, because they destroy the life of Christ within us. We have to teach our children that there is no room for hatred in the world. They may be very upset with a teacher, a playmate or a family member, but we must never allow being upset to turn into hatred. If we do that, we destroy ourselves and our ability to be the best version of ourselves. When we make the choice to forgive, we already live the values of the kingdom. The second issues that Jesus addresses is the new law of marital relations. He calls us to make a choice to live our married relationship in fidelity. When we choose to do that, we live a radical way of life, setting an example for others and becoming the best version of our married life. That choice starts in the heart by choosing to be the best version of yourself. For Jesus, marriage was part of God’s plan, reflecting God’s fidelity to the chosen people. Married relationship is therefore a place of safety, nurture and honor; not a place of violence, dishonesty and destructiveness. By forbidding divorce, Jesus calls for a reconciled relationship between husband and wife, instead of living in a situation of sub-marine warfare! So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The readings challenge us to choose the values of forgiveness, fidelity and honesty at all times; 2) In choosing such values we choose God’s wisdom which, though may appear foolishness, in fact transforms us into the best version of ourselves. 3) This week, choose to forgive someone who has hurt you, live faithfully and honestly. That is the best version of yourself. You will see the difference in your life; in your family; in the work place. The choice is yours.
©2017 John S. Mbinda