Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Sirach 15:15-20,
1 Corinthians 2:6-10, and Gospel
Today’s first reading reminds us of the power of choice. The first word, ‘If’ carries the punch. Everything that comes after that depends on our decision to choose something or reject it.
All the wisdom God offers us in the Commandments could be lost if we choose poorly, and how we choose can be greatly influenced by how we see the concepts of law and obedience. Do we see the Commandments as an imposition or as a guidepost, a blessed gift offered to us for our benefit? Sometimes religion hinders our ability to choose what’s best because of its tendency to use fear to persuade. Anything chosen out of fear will not last. I’d much rather choose to do right out of love. In my youth I found heaven’s requests burdensome and imposing. So, what I reaped was pain, disappointment and a true sense of the absence of God in my life. As I grew in maturity and wisdom I realized that what God asks of me/us is for our own good, always.
Today’s gospel makes clear what Jesus is asking of us. It is what I have chosen to call affirmative obedience. By my affirmative response to God’s request for obedience in all things, I am aligning myself with His law. It isn’t being imposed on me. Instead, I am giving my personal power of choice over to it willingly. Now, that’s not to say I’m always aligned with the will of God. Rather it’s to say that that is the intention of my heart always.
In this gospel passage the word Gehenna is used a few times. Though little to much can be lost in translation, I believe Gehenna is not so much a place as it is a state of being. Quite simply, it is the absence of God. Imagine now eternity with no access to the Trinity? Just darkness. That would be worse than any imaginative ‘fires of hell’. No?
Finally, verses 33-37 warn us to be faithful to what we promise. “Let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no’. Good advice in all things.
In ending, let us pray for each other that we choose wisely and remain always faithful to our promises, especially those we make to God.
-Peggy Roach, Associate