6th. Sunday in Ordinary Time:-Year A.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“It Was Said To Our Ancestors…But I Say This To You”.
In today’s Liturgy, Jesus is certainly showing us a difficult way.
The first reading tells us that humankind are free, we can choose and are thus accountable for our lives.
The second reading speaks of the “wisdom of God”, so different from human wisdom; the Gospel gives us some examples of this.
The struggle within ourselves is a life-long effort, but there is also on this journey a taste of something very special – the personal experience of God’s presence and love and power in our lives that makes it all worthwhile. That is the challenge of the Sermon on the Mount, and that’s the promise and hope underlying its demands and teachings. The disciples of Jesus do not ask the Master to justify his demands. They believe in the love of the Father and are confident that the way he shows them is the ‘Way of Life”.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“In the Old Testament the ‘New’ is hidden.
In the New Testament the ‘Old’ is laid open”.
Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 15:15-20.
God, the all-powerful and all-wise, created mankind to be responsible, in order to make the right choices in their lives. Ecclesiasticus teaches us that God respects the choice of his creation. All people are born with free choice; they are accountable for their actions, for the way they live their lives. God is not responsible for human sin, we are! (v.11) Physical and external situations do affect people at times, but they always retain the capability of making the basic decisions.
The first reading of today tells us humanity is at a crossroads: one leads to life, the other to death (17). A choice must be made between the two. God has pointed out to us how to avoid making mistakes. The way of ‘life’ is shown by the ‘Commandments of God’; the way of ‘death’ is marked by vices, passions and corruption.
Some may think of this sign system as a limitation to our freedom. We might get the impression that God is not allowing us to be free and happy because he doesn’t allow us to follow our whims and wishes. On the contrary, all he wants is to stop us from ruining our lives. Selfish and corrupt freedom can never bring happiness but only temporary pleasure.
There are few stronger statements in Scripture on the nature of free will. Human history is not a random flow of genes, nor is it a pre-determined game that God is playing with us. Each one of us makes choices, toward our spiritual life or death. Each choice has consequences. Some we can foresee; others quite unpredictable. We judge ourselves by the choices we make.
As we stretch forth a hand, toward fire or water, Sirach admonishes us to consider that we make a world of difference with our choices. In every moment is also the seed of another opportunity to choose life and to choose God’s way.
Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34.
The Psalm, the longest of all, introduces us to a person thoroughly at home with the person and the teaching of God, one who hears, sees, and walks the ways of a caring God. He is a model for the hearer of the ‘Sermon on the Mount’.
1 Corinthians 2:6-10.
What is this “wisdom of God”? Let us try to explain it by using an example. Imagine a father with a very large family and a small house. He thinks that he needs a larger house for the good of his children. He reflects on the problem, and on ways of solving it, at first by himself: he needs to find money, but where can he get it? Nobody knows anything of this initially. The project is still in his mind and in his heart. He doesn’t tell anybody, not even the village chiefs. Once he has examined all the possibilities carefully, he begins work. From that moment his secret plan slowly becomes a concrete reality and all can see it. As the building progresses his children come to know what their father had planned for them for a long time.
The father in the story example is God. He has a great plan of love for humankind and had not revealed it to anybody. Paul refers to this project that was in the mind of God as the “wisdom of God”. In his other letters he will also call it “mysteries” hidden in God from all eternity.
This “wisdom of God” has now been revealed because God has begun to realize and fulfil his plan. His wonderful work is progressing and at the end of the world all will be able to see it because it will then be complete.
Today’s Gospel continues by showing us some of the elements of this ‘Constitution’. The ‘Old Covenant’ that had bound the people of Israel together is not abandoned all together, but Jesus shows that the ‘New One’ will be completely different. It requires ‘obedience at the level of the heart’ and not so much ‘obedience to external laws’. Matthew describes how Jesus announced the ‘Beatitudes’ as the way to real happiness and how his disciples are to live in the world as ‘salt and light’ for others. Now he will put to us new ethical challenges (Mt 5:21-48). Jesus’ teaching is new. He has not come to abolish the Law that was given by God as an expression of the Covenant. The past experience of people relating to God through the Law and the Prophets, remain important, even for Christians.
Jesus now brings to fulfilment what the Law had promised and what the Prophets foretold. The life that was offered by living according to the Law will now find its fullest expression in the person of Jesus. This continuity and fulfilment helps us realize that God has a ‘plan’ and is always faithful to his promises. Jesus respects the ‘Old’, but offers something ‘New’. When the Jewish teachers quoted the Law, out of respect they avoided saying: “God said…” Rather they used expressions like “it is written” In their explanations, they interpreted the Law but would never contradict it. The way Jesus teaches and interprets the Law is completely different. The voice of Jesus resounds with complete authority because his authority comes from the Father.
However, in ‘each case in point’ he adds something. He says: “But I say to you” (Mt: 22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44). The Jewish readers of Matthew immediately understand that Jesus is putting himself in the place of God. He himself is replacing, the Lawgiver, the ‘One’ God. Jesus not only does this but his demands are far more radical. In most societies what the lawgiver demands is external obedience to the law, to simply do what the law says. Jesus turns attention away from the external acts to the interior motivation behind them, to the heart of the Law. Real obedience comes from a heart that desires to be reconciled with others, to respect the other person’s body as the ‘Temple of the Holy Spirit’. It is in the heart that one realizes the importance of being true to oneself and to others rather than using God’s name as a cover-up for lies. Most of all, it is from a renewed heart that love will be inclusive of friends and enemies alike.
We tend to stress obedience to external rules and laws. We consider good Christians those who say their prayers, pay their tithes and go to Mass. Only those with hearts filled with love will be able to fulfil the ‘Law of Christ’ and show respect for the weak and the excluded. Those who followed Jesus would soon discover, to their horror, to what end the ‘Law of Love’ might lead. The road to the ‘Cross’ was paved with acts of love. Let us face the vision of Jesus with a willing heart and a ready spirit. None of us can do this alone. We need God’s grace and blessings and the Eucharist for our faith’s journey. That is why we come to Mass gathered in community, to pray that God will fund our efforts to bring that vision to reality.
Only when we go beyond the Law and live in the Spirit of Jesus will we realize that we belong to a new family, the loving family of God.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A, we reflect on …
Sun. … We have been given a free-will to truly love God and our neighbour. The choices we make will have consequences that will involve spiritual life and death, good and evil. Reflect on what ways do we exercise our free will? Is it for our own advantage or for the benefit of others that is pleasing to God?
Mon. … Each day we come to ‘cross-roads’ in our lives; a choice must be made and our free will must be exercised. Free-will is not something that human beings can fully explain. Without it we cannot truly love God or our neighbour. We judge ourselves by the choices that we make!
Tue. … Human freedom and law are subject to much misunderstanding. Some think that freedom means that we can do whatever we want. When you put God first in your life, human freedom is exercised properly. It becomes a reflection of the wisdom of God.
Wed. … God’s wisdom will not ultimately depend on years of scholarly study or the mental capacity of the rational mind. God’s wisdom comes to us through the Spirit, which is the only way we can appreciate ‘the deep things of God’. It is sometimes difficult for us in this world of distractions to exercise our spirituality. We have to, as Christians, regularly make ourselves available to the prompting of the Holy Spirit through prayer.
Thur. … To many the ‘Law of Love’ certainly sounded like a relaxed approach to religion. Jesus makes short work of that theory in today’s sterner passage from the Sermon on the Mount. The ‘Law of Love’ was not about mere obedience to statutes; it is about taking their spirit to heart and putting that ‘gratuitous love’ into action. That is pleasing to God!
Frid. … We tend to stress obedience to external rules and laws. We may consider ourselves good Christians if we say our prayers, go to Mass and pay our tithes. Only when our hearts are filled with love will we be able to fulfill the ‘Law of Christ’ to show love, respect and compassion for the weak, lost and excluded.
Sat. … Let us face the vision of Jesus with a loving and willing heart. None of us can do this alone. We need God’s grace and blessings and the Eucharist (Christ within us) and his Spirit to guide us through the many pitfalls and obstacles in our faith’s journey.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, grant to us the grace and blessings to go beyond the law and live in the true Spirit of Jesus so that we may bring Christ’s vision of love to a reality in this suffering world. May all who are lost become united in the family of God.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.