Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I Sirach 15:15-20
Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34
Reading II First Corinthians 2:6-10
Gospel Matthew 5:17-37
You and I, most of the time, want to be in control. And if we want to be in control then we determine what we are going to follow and what we are not going to follow. But when we let go and let God enter into our hearts and give us the Spirit, we realize there is only one choice and that is to say, “Yes.” Because we know that if we turn against what God is asking us to do, more than likely our day is not going to go well, our lives are not going to be smooth. Most of the time it is the little things. But the little things, when we are selfish, can be expanded to something severe.
An example would be, as I was telling the children, how they are to say “yes” to Mom and Dad. There was a family in Mexico and Mom and Dad and their four kids were going to the Hawaiian Islands. One of the four kids was a teen-ager who was deeply in love and it irritated her that her parents were going to take her away from her boyfriend and take her on a family vacation. It has probably happened to a few of you.
Anyway, they got on the boat and they were moving toward the Hawaiian Islands and she was so perturbed that in her teen-age mind she thought, “I think I’ll go put a sign on the mirror in the restroom and when someone sees it — this will create chaos and fear and the boat will turn around and I can go back home and be with my boyfriend.” Well, she did that. But it turned out it wasn’t just one person who became scared, the entire ship went into chaos and all kinds of people came to the boat to check everything out.
When they got all finished they found nothing wrong on the boat, just one teen-ager who missed her boyfriend. After conducting interviews, they found out that she was the one who had written the sign on the mirror. She went from being a teen-ager to being an adult because she had broken a few laws. She was sent to prison for three years, no parole, to wake up and live to know that there is something more important than just having your own way. She was restricting her life by the law. She was not letting the spirit of the law say, “Yeah. I do miss my boyfriend, but we may never have another family vacation.”
We all go through this, and it is easy when we see it in someone else. But often we do not see it in ourselves. I was taking a trip with a family and I had two teen-age boys in my car so we rotated driving. As we were getting close to home, the oldest boy, who was 16 or 17 years old at the time, wanted to get home to his girlfriend. He would just push that pedal and I would say, “JR, slow down.”
He would answer, “OK, Father, I’ll slow down.”
Before I knew it, he was driving way beyond the speed limit. I said, “Will you please slow down or I’ll drive.” Well, we had a meeting in the middle and we got home and he was out of the car in two minutes, got a shower, changed his clothes and was getting in the car to go see his girlfriend. Mom and Dad and I had to unload the car, the whole thing. But how life pans out, the one he was speeding for he never married. There was someone else in his life that God had planned for him to marry. He is happily married, he has a wonderful job, and a beautiful family.
Life is all about choices so Jesus is saying to us, “Just think for a moment how many times you want your own way. You don’t care if it is good for the rest of your family or the community, you just want it your way.” And Jesus says, “That’s not the spirit of the law.” It’s not that the law is bad, it is just that the law is there for the common good and you should obey laws when they are appropriate. Always remember, you are not the only one on the face of the earth.
So Jesus says to all of us, “If you are going to become my children, it doesn’t matter what continent you live on, or what city you were raised in — you must always have love for each other. And there is a time for you to put aside the things that you want, so that someone else will have joy and happiness in his or her life.”
Then Jesus says, “If you open your eyes you will see many times when other people are putting themselves aside so that they can help you or please you.”
So this week may we decide not to get caught up in some law or selfish need, but may we think, “There is a larger crowd out there and maybe someone needs me more that I need to satisfy my own wants and needs.”
I don’t think there is one person here who can stand up and say, “You sure aren’t talking about me. I’ve always put everybody else first.” We all need to realize that Jesus says, “I did not come to throw the law of Christ, the law of God, into the sewer. I came to expand that law so that you can see, ‘I’m not worried about adultery. I’m worried about you even thinking about it.’ ” So you and I just have to calm down sometimes and say, “OK, Lord. In my head, I want to make this choice, but in my heart I know another choice should be made.”
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 file Disc C 0018)