Homily for the Sixth Sunday of the Year (A) (12th February, 2017) on the Gospel
Ps 118:1-2.4-5.17-18.33-34 (R. v.1)
Matt 5:17-37 or 5:20-22, 27-28, 33-34, 37.
One day I saw two children fighting. After stopping the fight, I took time to find out what caused the fight to forestall them fighting after I left. According to them it all started from their argument about the ownership of a motorcycle that passed by. Each of them claimed that he was the first to say that it was his before the other. As none of them was ready to consent to the other, the result was the fight. I asked them few questions about the motorcycle. They only looked around but not even a word came from their mouth. Hum! The motorcycle in question as at the time I came was many miles away from where the children were fighting over its ownership.
Topic: My sin, your sin.
Today’s gospel can be divided into five parts in line with its lessons – Jesus’ mission in relation to the law and the prophets (Matt 5:17-20), anger (Matt 5:21-26), adultery (Matt 5:27-30), divorce (Matt 5:31-32), and oath taking (Matt 5:33-37). This gospel reading is a follow up of that of last Sunday where Jesus reminds us of the dignity of our status as Christians – salt and light of the world. In all these lessons, one thing stands out. God expects much more from us Christians because to whom much is given much is also expected from him or her, cf. Lk 12:48.
Many Christians today including those who occupy leadership positions struggle to prove that they are not the worst of sinners. It looks as if it is useless to fight against sin in its entirety. We spend our energy comparing our sins with that of others and consoling ourselves that we are not the worst. But are we called to be mediocres – not being saints and not being sinners? Have we suddenly forget the warning, “...because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth” (Rev 3:16).
Christians are not called to compete with others in sin but to be like God himself, cf. Matt 5:48. We are called to be saints, cf. Rom 1:7; 1Cor 1:2. Saint John in his Third Letter writes: “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. He who does good is of God; he who does evil has not seen God” (3Jn 1:11). Jesus tells us,
… whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
One may console him/herself that what he or she does is not what he or she teaches thereby seeing this as an escape route. However, the two are inseparable no matter how careful one is. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews asks us to imitate our fathers in faith who spoke to us the word of God, cf. Heb 13:7. Saint Paul wrote, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1Cor 11:1).
Just like the children who fought over the ownership of a motorcycle that they know nothing about, our argument or struggle over whose sin is the greatest will neither lead us to our destination, the kingdom of heaven nor will it better the world we live in. The Book of Revelation tells us that nothing unclean shall enter the kingdom of heaven, cf. Rev 21:27. Or can one be clean by struggling not to be a mediocre? Saint Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians writes: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1Cor 6:9-10; cf. Eph 5:5; Gal 5:21). We have been delivered from the dominion of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of God, Col 1:13. Unless we live accordingly, we cannot be the salt and light of the earth that we are meant to be.
Jesus concludes the first part of today’s gospel with this emphasis on righteousness: “… unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. So my dear one, let us go and compete in doing what is good, and right and true, cf. Eph 5:9. Through this we can be the salt and light of the world and also inherit the kingdom of light in the world to come.
Bible Readings: 1Cor 6:7-20; 2Cor 6:14-7:1; Eph 5:1-17.
Thought for today: What you do is what you teach.
Let us pray: Lord, help us in our fight against every sin and every occasion that might lead to sin – Amen.
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