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Saturday, 15 February 2014

Reflection/Homily: Sixth (6th) Sunday in Ordinary Time of the Year A (16 February 2014)

Reflection/Homily: Sixth (6th) Sunday in Ordinary Time of the Year A (16 February 2014)
Topic: Fulfilling the Law

During the time of Jesus, it was observed that in teaching the Law, the Scribes had characteristics phrases like “There is a teaching that…, it is written that…” which they used to introduce the Law but Jesus would begin directly as a Law Giver with expressions like “I tell you most solemnly, unless…” This marveled the Jews to the extent that his audience confirmed that he taught them with authority unlike the Scribes (cf. Mark 1:22, Matt. 7:28-29). The Scribes were regarded as the authentic interpreters and teachers of the Law. In order to understand and fulfill the Law of Moses perfectly, the Scribes deduced several rules and regulations from the Ten Commandments and taught the Jews to obey them. For example, interpreting the third commandment (Keep the Sabbath Day Holy), the Scribes understood this to include abstaining from work and they classified all kind of things as work. So they prohibited doing things such as carrying a burden, writing, healing, etc on a Sabbath Day. They were motivated by the desire to obey the letters of the Law and that was why they brought about these rules and regulations.

Today’s Gospel reading (Mt. 5:17-37) is one of such occasions where Jesus taught with authority unlike the Scribes. He said he did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill the Law. Contrary to the expectation of the Jews, in fulfilling the Law, Jesus quoted the Law only to contradict it by substituting it with his own teaching. By fulfilling the Law, Jesus meant he came to give us the proper interpretation of the Law according to the mind of God and not according to the interpretation of the Scribes. He became his own authority. This interpretation would not be based on the letters of the Law but on the spirit of the Law. While the Scribes were interested only in the act, Jesus was also interested in the motive and desires for sinful acts. He wanted to address the problem of sin right from its origin – the heart. For Jesus, evil thoughts form the background for evil deeds and the best way to avoid evil deeds is to run away from evil thoughts. Evil thoughts are powered by energies which spiritual masters call the seven capital sins: anger, lust, envy, gluttony, pride, sloth and greed.

Do you find traces of these capital sins in your life? They are the gateways through which you could find yourself at the pit of hell if you do not avoid them. Thus, Christ invites us never to entertain any thought, be involved in any relationship, visit any place, or do anything that might lead us to sin. Do you commit murder directly or indirectly, by blood-shed or by character assassination or by abortion? Jesus invites you today to repent. Are you in enmity with anyone, be it a friend or a relative? Jesus invites you to be reconciled. Are you in any relationship that engages you in adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bestiality, pornography and all forms of immoral acts? Jesus invites you to free yourself from such a relationship and repent from such actions. If you are always insincere, dishonest or always taking an oath to cover up your insincerity, Jesus also invites you to profess the truth despite the challenges. If you are currently exposing anybody to sin through scandals or initiation into an evil group or even creating room for marital infidelity or divorce, Jesus invites you to reconsider your actions. All sins are abominable in the sight of God and the sinner cannot go unpunished.

Beloved friends, the first reading (Sirach 15:15-20) reminds us that we are totally responsible for our actions be them good or bad and that God cannot lead us into sin. Avoiding sin is not simply a matter of resolution not to sin again but a resolution to also avoid the occasions that lead to such sins. That was what Christ meant when he said “if your right eye causes you to sin, pull it out and throw it away”. Only a sinless mind can participate in the wisdom of God which St. Paul in the second reading (1 Cor. 2:6-10) encourages us to seek. The wisdom of God will reveal to us on the last day, that which God has prepared for those who love Him, which no eyes have seen, nor ears heard, nor any human mind conceived. Therefore, let us try to guard against all forms of evil so that in our thoughts and actions, the Law will be properly fulfilled. Happy Sunday. God loves you.

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