Taking time out to recognize everyday temptations – and ask God's help
Reflections on the readings for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 16, 2020): SIR 15:15-20; PS 119:1-2,4-5,17-18,33-34; 1COR 2:6-10; MT 5:17-37
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Today’s readings call our attention to our relationship with God – and with one another.
Both Sirach and Matthew’s Gospel ask us to recognize the importance of the Ten Commandments. Yet Jesus tells us that they are not the ultimate goal of our moral and spiritual lives. The law of Moses is basically the starting point for all of us who choose life rather than death and good rather than evil. So, first, Christ urges his disciples to follow them: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.… Whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17, 19). Then He goes beyond that.
The Commandments prohibit adultery, but Jesus wants us to understand that looking at and thinking about another person with lust can lead to that illicit behavior. Killing is nurtured in an angry heart. Of course the idea of plucking our an eye or cutting off a hand that is part of sinful behavior is extreme. But Christ wants us to stop and think about our daily thoughts and actions. They can lead us in the wrong direction if we let them. Every day offers us opportunities to turn away from Almighty God or to turn toward Him. Nevertheless, we can build our relationship with Him by using those moments when we are tempted to sin by putting ourselves in His hands and asking for His grace. Then those common invitations to selfishness, pride, hatred, greed or any other harmful desires need not overwhelm us. Almighty God wants to give us the help we need to defeat temptations that interfere with the loving bond we are called to have with Him and His people. Let us pray often for Christ our Redeemer to lead us ever closer to Himself.