I hafta confess that after reading the Sunday Gospel, I wasn’t really in any mood to do a reflection. Being confined inside because of recent surgery and a “can’t drive yet” reality, I needed something to cheer me up. Instead I get those “thou shalt not’s” from the good Lord. I need some “Go for its!!” in my life!!
Yet the very feeling I just described is perfectly covered by the First Reading from Sirach. Choose fire or water, life or death the Wise Man says. Choose to be grumpy, withdrawn, and negative, or choose the opposite behavior.
In the Second Reading Paul talks about the wisdom of this age….and the prevailing wisdom is to choose anything but anything that helps us to avoid suffering, pain, loneliness, discomfort, etc. So we can choose that, or we can choose to see the Spirit at work in present circumstances.
Choosing is behind the Gospel as well. We can choose not to murder someone. Well and good….I can do that. But it’s a different beast entirely when it comes to the anger that lies underneath that desire to kill. We all have had it….maybe not angry enough to kill, but definitely angry enough to put some chocolate Ex-Lax in the next batch of brownies. Jesus wants us to realize that anger kills us…it kills all that is good within us. It takes control of our lives.
The same with lust and marital relations and oath taking. You can do the minimum: not committing adultery, staying married but living separate lives, not using oaths to prove you’re telling the truth. It’s one way to live. But there is a deeper way: respecting the dignity and beauty and sacredness of every human life, doing all one can to prevent divorce by working at a marriage, by having a reputation as an honest and reliable person who keeps his or her word or promises come what may.
Y’see, life always gives us choices. God himself gives us choices. Even though bad things do happen and life can be cruel and God seem capricious, we still have the ability to choose our reactions and our actions. Like Sirach says, we enfold ourselves in the darkness, or reach out to the light. We choose. No one else chooses for us.
Much love…many prayers!!
Fr Herb, C.S.C.