Sunday, 12 February 2017 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, we heard the messages from the Sacred Scriptures telling us about the wisdom of man and the wisdom of God. Many of us boast in our abilities, our intellect and our greatness, but in all of these, what we all know and are capable of, are nothing compared to the greatness and the glory of God.

It is often that we mankind try to be better than God, by not listening to Him, by not obeying His laws and ways, and by trying to come out with ways to make things convenient for themselves, but at the cost of disobedience and sinning before God. We often trust in our own judgement and in our own wisdom, but all these are incapable of bringing us true satisfaction.

For there are really many things that are beyond our grasp, and beyond our ability to comprehend them. And this is why it is so important for us to have our faith in God, for the Lord has revealed to us His truth through none other than Jesus our Lord, Who came into this world to bring light, His light into it, and dispel the darkness that clouded our minds and our visions of the way ahead.

We need to open ourselves to receive God’s truth and wisdom, and we must not be like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, whom Jesus criticised in the Gospel today, as those who knew the Law, and yet although they knew it and remembered it, but they did not do as what the Law intended for them to do. They did not practice what they supposed to practice, and instead putting trust in their own human intellect and wisdom.

Why is this so? That is because they had become proud and arrogant as they were entrusted with the leadership of the people and with the guardianship of the laws of God. They oppress the people with many laws, rules and regulations, which they themselves did not understand and appreciate, as they enforced these with the intention of making themselves praised and honoured before others, when all others saw just how faithful and devout they were in fulfilling the laws.

Yet, they had no God in their hearts. God is not the priority in their lives, as they filled it rather with their own purposes and desires. They have not been faithful, and misled others, and in some occasions they even made it difficult for others to find their way towards the Lord, as they condemned those whom they deemed to be sinners and unworthy of God’s saving grace.

But Jesus rebuked all of them and showed just how wrong they were. They were not able to fulfil what God had entrusted to them, that is to help guide the people of God on the way to righteousness. Instead, they made these people to endure the laws like a chore, and not truly understanding what is it that they uphold and are expected to do under the Law.

Jesus revealed to them the truth, by teaching them what the laws of God truly means. He taught them all that the Law of God must be understood in its whole purpose, rather than just in individual terms. The laws of God are not individual and separate laws that just ought to be obeyed as they are, but one must learn why is it that they must be obeyed, so that these laws will benefit us.

Take for example, the law on murder, where Jesus explained that, even though the Law prescribed punishment for those who had committed murder, but murder itself is caused often by a pre-planned intention, in which the person committing murder has already contemplated doing harm to another person’s life, or plotting to kill that person for various reasons.

And that was why Jesus said that even if someone gets angry at another, he or she already commits a sin, as anger as we know can easily lead to greater anger, and then into discord, and eventually violence, that as we know can cause death if it goes unabated and uncontrolled. And sin is against love, for love is the true essence of God’s laws.

God loves each and every one of us, brothers and sisters in Christ. But, it is too often that we are caught up in our various distractions that we do not realise just how much God cares for us. He gave us His Law, because He loved us all, and through Jesus, He explained it all to us, what is it that we need to do in order to be truly faithful to Him. The Law of God is a guide that helps each and every one of us to live an ever more faithful and righteous life.

Let us all throw away all the obstacles and clear all the things that hinder us from being able to love God, by humbling ourselves and opening ourselves to accept God’s mercy, love and grace. Let us no longer put our trust in our own human power, intellect and abilities, but instead, learn to trust in God’s providence and do our best in order to obey Him through our actions, that we love instead of hate, give hope instead of despair, console others instead of mockery, and by being true to our calling to love Him and our brethren.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today and from now henceforth draw closer to our God, giving ourselves wholeheartedly to Him, loving Him with all of our deeds and works, caring for those in need and pouring our love for the needy and for all those who have not had love in them. It is indeed easier to be said than done, but we will persevere if we can just help one another, support each other in our efforts to be more like Him in all of our ways.

May the Lord help us, brethren, that all of us will learn to obey Him and understand that love is the primary reason why God created us, showed us His laws and commandments, so that each and every one of us will gradually be more righteous, just and worthy to be in God’s presence, and therefore worthy to receive His promise of eternal life. May God bless us all, and forgive us all our sins. Amen.

Sunday, 12 February 2017 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Matthew 5 : 17-37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “Do not think that I have come to annul the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to annul them but to fulfil them. I tell you this : as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or dot in the Law will change until all is fulfilled.”

“So then, whoever breaks the least important of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be the least in the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys them, and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the kingdom of heaven.”

“I tell you then, if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial. But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial.”

“Whoever insults a brother or sister deserves to be brought before the council. Whoever calls a brother or a sister, ‘Fool!’ deserves to be thrown into the fire of hell. So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with him, and then come back and offer your gift to God.”

“Do not forget this : be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There you will stay, until you have paid the last penny.”

“You have heard that it was said : Do not commit adultery. But I tell you this : anyone who looks at a woman too lustfully has in fact already committed adultery with her in his heart. So, if your right eye causes you to sin, pull it out and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell.”

“It was also said : Anyone who divorces his wife, must give her a written notice of divorce. But what I tell you is this : if a man divorces his wife, except in the case of unlawful union, he causes her to commit adultery. And the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

“You have also heard that people were told in the past : Do not break your oath; an oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this : do not take oaths. Do not swear by the heavens, for they are God’s throne, nor by the earth, because it is His footstool, nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. Say yes when you mean yes, and say no when you mean no. Anything else you say comes from the devil.”

Alternative reading (shorter version)
Matthew 5 : 20-22a, 27-28, 33-34a, 37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “I tell you then, if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial. But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial.”

“You have heard that it was said : Do not commit adultery. But I tell you this : anyone who looks at a woman too lustfully has in fact already committed adultery with her in his heart. You have also heard that people were told in the past : Do not break your oath; an oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this : do not take oaths. Say yes when you mean yes, and say no when you mean no. Anything else you say comes from the devil.”

Sunday, 12 February 2017 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
1 Corinthians 2 : 6-10

In fact, we do speak of wisdom to the mature in faith, although it is not a wisdom of this world or of its rulers, who are doomed to perish. We teach the mystery and secret plan of divine wisdom, which God destined from the beginning to bring us to Glory.

No ruler of this world ever knew this; otherwise they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But as Scripture says : Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it dawned on the mind what God has prepared for those who love Him. God has revealed it to us, through His Spirit, because the Spirit probes everything, even the depth of God.

Sunday, 12 February 2017 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Psalm 118 : 1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34

Blessed are they whose ways are upright, who follow the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who treasure His word and seek Him with all their heart.

You have laid down precepts to be obeyed. O, that my ways were steadfast in observing Your statutes!

Be kind to Your servant, that I may live to follow Your word. Open my eyes that I may see the marvellous truths in Your law.

Explain to me, o Lord, Your commandments, and I will be ever faithful to them. Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law with all my heart.

Sunday, 12 February 2017 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Sirach 15 : 16-21 (Greek Septuagint version – Sirach 15 : 15-20)

If you wish, you can keep the commandments and it is in your power to remain faithful. He has set fire and water before you; you stretch out your hand to whichever you prefer.

Life and death are set before man : whichever a man prefers will be given him. How magnificent is the wisdom of the Lord! He is powerful and all-seeing. His eyes are on those who fear Him. He knows all the works of man.

He has commanded no one to be godless and has given no one permission to sin.