A HOMILY FOR THE SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” 2/16/14 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and Goodness to you this day!
We have lots of rules. We have rules for just about every aspect of our lives. Sometimes the rules make sense. And sometimes, maybe even many times, the rules don’t make so much sense. For example, I am still trying to figure out that tag on the mattress thing. Those non-removable tags get in the way every time I change the sheets. Really, what’s the point? Seems to me like that’s a law we could take off the books and simplify things. And I gotta tell you, I really don’t understand Indiana’s blue law, about selling alcohol on Sunday either. You can go to any restaurant with a bar on Sunday and drink as much alcohol as you would like, but you can’t buy a bottle of wine on Sunday to have with your meal at home. It doesn’t seem very fair to me, and in some ways it seems hypocritical. How is right that some people can sell it and others cannot? And then there’s my favorite laws that I would like to see changed or done away with, and that’s our speed limits. Don’t get me wrong, I know we all have to stay safe out there, and that we share the roads with many different people of many different driving skill levels. But it is so hard for me to see why there is a forty-mile-per-hour speed limit on a new, four-lane, stretch of road, with few lights or intersections. What gets me even more is when an officer of the law is sitting around waiting for someone to drive too fast on our roads. I mean, how much crime is there in our world today? With murder, robberies, abuse, drug dealing, and so much more, do we really need our law enforcement people sitting on the side of the road waiting for priests, I mean people, to speed by. All laws are not equal.
St. Matthew has Jesus talking to us today about the law. We know that in Jesus’ day, the Jewish law was sacred. It all started with the Ten Commandments, but by Jesus’ day, the Ten Commandments had been expanded into this huge code of legal rules. There were those followers of Jesus who mistakenly had thought that when Jesus came along talking all about love, and mercy, and following God in your heart, that somehow He was nullifying the Jewish law. And so Jesus starts out today by making it perfectly clear that He is NOT nullifying anything. In fact, Jesus says that those who break God’s law, and even more those who teach and encourage others to break God’s law, will not be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. All of a sudden, those Commandments become a lot more important, when we hear Jesus’ words today! Then Jesus goes on to explain what He is really talking about. Jesus isn’t just asking His followers, and yes, all these years later, that includes us, He’s not just asking us to obey the law because the law is the law, and we should follow it to act justly, Jesus is calling and challenging each one of us to go beyond the law. Jesus is calling us from justice, to real love! For Jesus, justice is the bare minimum. Jesus doesn’t just want us to act justly, He wants us to act lovingly, with a compassion, and a care, and a mercy that goes far beyond justice, far beyond just what we are required to do. My brothers and sisters, today’s Gospel gives us some of Jesus’ most radical teachings. And why? It is because we know that so many times we can’t live up to justice. We can’t even be fair, how in the world can God expect us to compassionate and loving?
Well, that’s why we need the Holy Spirit, and that’s also why we need His example of love. We are being called to something new, and better. All of us are! We don’t want God to just treat us justly. We, all of us, are relying on God’s mercy and compassion. And if that’s true, then don’t all of us need to start living more by His mercy and compassion. Maybe, just maybe, that if we obeyed God’s law and Commandments out of a real love and commitment for God and for our brothers and sisters, then maybe they would be a little easy to follow and obey! And can you imagine that? Could you be a little more honest and forthright if you loved more? Could you be more generous and kind to strangers if you loved more. Could I slow down and obey the speed limit and be a more courteous driver, if I loved my brothers and sister more. Absolutely! Love changes everything! It even changes how and why we obey the commandments and laws. May we be filled with God’s love and compassion! And as we all want and expect it some day from God for ourselves, may we be willing to be loving and compassionate towards those around us. May God give us the loving heart of His Son, Jesus!
+May God bless us today, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!