Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Sunday Word

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I: Sirach 15:15-20
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 2:6-10
Gospel: Matthew 5:17-37

In Sunday's Gospel, Jesus preaches some pretty harsh-sounding warnings to us about the consequences we face should we fail to practice righteousness within every aspect of our lives. Even more graphic are the remedies Jesus prescribes as treatments for our righteousness- deficiency. We are wrong if we read Jesus' words about cutting off our right hand or plucking out our eye as just the reflection of some ancient barbaric code of justice. Jesus' directives are violently vivid metaphors that tell us that we must simply stop doing the things that harm others or ourselves before those old behaviors destroy us.

There is an old saying that suggests if you want to dig a new hole, you don't dig the same hole deeper! Yet that is the technique many of us are trying to use to turn our lives around, to get our relationships back on track. If you are losing touch with your spouse or your children because your work schedule is so busy - don't think scheduling more family busy-ness together is the answer. Don't stop smoking just to start compulsively overeating. If you turn off the TV just to get lost in trashy novels, you are still a flabby couch potato.

- If you want to be healthy, ... stop doing those things that harm you.

- If you want harmony in your life, ... stop doing those things that cause discord.

- If you want peace in the world, ... stop doing those things that lead to war.

- If you want a closer relationship with someone, ... stop doing those things and saying those things that build up walls between you.

- If you want to rekindle the romance in your life, ... stop doing those things that create animosity and boredom.

- If you want to live in a close-knit, caring community, ... stop hiding behind your front door.

- If you want a spiritual life that fills you up, ... stop pouring all your energies everywhere but toward God.

It is possible just to stop bad, destructive behavior. But it is not easy.
You can have a new relationship ... a new body ... a new attitude ... a new spirit ... a new career ... a new community ... a new world - but only by stopping the old destructive, hurtful behaviors you've doggedly recycled for so many years.

The changes we want to come about in our lives will not happen just by wishing them to be so. We must cut ourselves off from our old attitudes and throw them away.

Throw them away for good. For God.