From the Archives of Fr. Metzler’s Homilies: 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Sirach 15: 15-20    1 Corinthians 2:6-10    Matthew 5:17-37

With A Loving  Heart

Monday is Valentine’s Day; and I want to again wish all of you a very Happy Valentine’s Day and let you know that I love all of you very much.  I will be keeping you and your special Valentines in my prayers at Mass all this weekend and at Mass on Monday.

I have a radio on which I often listen to the news and to sports events. It can pick up stations from a long distance away and the static and other stations crowding in can make it hard to hear. But, you know, I find that I hear what I want to hear.  Sometimes it seems I just make the effort to hear it … and I hear it.

When I am not interested in something, well, I don’t listen and so don’t tune in. What I want to hear, want to know, that I find the energy to hear. And often I think and I wonder what we as God’s People want to hear in the Scriptures and also what we do not want to hear. Where is our energy for listening?

As we move through this weekend’s liturgy, I suggest we pray with and reflect a bit upon what we want to hear from God, from the Church, from life. Our personal and family problems get our attention easily. We long to know more, to feel deeply, to understand mysterious things. But we need to listen to what The Book of Sirach, our first reading today, says to us, with all its wonderful images and wise sayings about most aspects of life. The whole book centers around the depth, presence and practicality of Wisdom.

Today it tells us that a great part of being Wise is knowing how to choose. God sets before us fire and water, life and death, good and evil. Whatever we choose will be given us. Wisdom is God’s way and we are choosers. We have been given the gift, or burden, of our freedom. Our wisdom is using our knowledge according to our faith in God’s ways. Wisdom gives us understanding, but it also allows us a freedom to exercise just how deeply or to what extent we will share it. And to what levels we do not want to hear as well. It’s all about listening and hearing. So, stay tuned!

Today’s continuation of the Sermon on the Mount contains twenty long verses about what has been heard in the past and what is to be listened to now. Jesus is not spinning the Law and the traditions passed on through the prophets. He is applying a proper spirit to what had become too legalistic. He is giving us a new way of living the Old Law as well.

Mark Twain, the great  American humorist, once wrote that the New Testament is one of those books you wish everybody else would read. This whole Sermon, at the beginning of Jesus’ preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven, is not meant for exact execution, but for our interiorizing the heart and mind of Jesus. It is not about doing this or not doing that. It is about the ‘why’ of our doing anything.

For instance, we are encouraged not to lust sexually in our relationships with each other, but it is about reverence of the human body and the sacredness of love and life that is important. This sacredness of life extends to killing all forms of human life as well. Killing relationships with our brothers and sisters is a violation.

This is a long Gospel today and the whole Sermon takes much pondering. We here in the United States love the exactness of laws so we know what’s right and how we can get around or through or under or above what’s written. God so loved the world that God sent a Loving, Relational Person to share the sacredness of our lives and the sacredness of God’s relationship with us. The Wisdom of Jesus is not ‘how’ He lived, but the ‘why’. He came and continues coming, respectful of our freedom, to encourage us to reverence our lives, the time we have and the lives and times we have with others.

                            (Larry Gillick, S.J.  Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality  Creighton University)

  Life Implications

The ideal expressed in this gospel passage reminds us that external religious observance, though certainly important, will never suffice to make us authentic followers of Christ. It’s relatively easy to observe rituals and to affirm doctrines but, unfortunately, such observance can easily co-exist with an interior attitude that is judgmental and unforgiving. As the gospel reminds us, reconciliation with the alienated people in our lives (and often families) is more important than meticulous, or even scrupulous, religious observance.

In the case of murder, he points out that it is not just the act that is reprehensible but that the sin is present already in the hatred that often leads to murder. In a similar manner, viewing another person as a sexual object is so demeaning that it is already a serious sin, even if it does not actually lead to adultery.                (Demetrius Dumm O.S.B.)


The Need For Critical Self-Examination

There is a laundry list of justice issues that demand our energies and time to addressing, but they require that we engage in critical self-examination before we can lend ourselves to the task of bringing about equality. It is hard to overlook the many suffering people who have no place tosleep or food to eat and are left begging in the streets. Our nightly newscasts are filled with story after story of individuals who are dehumanized and rendered victims of a society that no longer values relationships and has ceased loving neighbor as self.

The primary importance of human relationships seems to be lost as individuals are rendered less-than because of race, gender, and sexual orientation. In the first-century church, would anyone dare admit that they were contributing to the problems Matthew wrote to address? It is easy to look at the problems and name them as the fault of others but the bigger challenge comes when we dare to find ourselves in the midst and ask how am I contributing to the problem? Or, how can I bring difference to what I observe around me?                          

(Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson U.C.C.)

What is required then is an interior conversion that recognizes one’s own shortcomings and is thus prepared to allow others to be imperfect also. What is most important, however, is an attitude of loving kindness that enables us to notice how others are hurting and which gladly reaches out to them, not because they deserve our help, but simply because they are in need and our hearts are sensitive to the fact. To love in this way is to be a child of that God who certainly loves us more than we deserve. As such, we will also be true followers of Jesus as we make his love present in our world.                                                  (Demetrius R. Dumm)

Seeing The World With A New Heart

This Gospel passage challenges us to see the world in a new way. In each of the scenarios Jesus is calling for an entirely new way of viewing human relationships, Behind the prohibitions lies the vision of a restored humanity. What is our view of humanity? Do we have a vision for justice that will bring about racial healing and equality? Do we have a vision for reconciliation that will provide a hope and a future for those who are marginalized and ostracized by society? The text takes us to hard places which involve looking at our hearts and creating newness within.  (Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson U.C.C.)





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