Homily Sixth Sunday of the Year A

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Homily: Sixth Sunday of the Year A

In the first reading, the prophet reminds us that God has given us free will to choose life or death, good or evil, lasting fire or life-giving water. Our choice can be based on self-gratification or on our love of God, either trusting in our self or trusting in the Lord. God doesn’t cause us to act unjustly or gives us license to sin. Instead, he gives us the grace to know right from wrong, through the gift of wisdom.

If we choose God’s ways because of his grace, God will confirm our choice. This is eternal life with him where we will find life-giving water. If we choose to satisfy ourselves in spite of God’s command and in spite of his grace, God will also confirm our choice. This is the second death, eternal alienation from the Good which is God himself; this is the lasting fire.

Many people feel that freedom equates to a license to do anything they want because it makes them happy for the moment. Rather, true freedom is to choose what will be beneficial to our eternal happiness. Our eternal happiness will be in relationship with God. Our eternal unhappiness will be not to be in relationship with God. So choose life or choose death: that’s the message of the first reading.

In the second reading Paul tells us that God gives us not only the freedom of choice, but also the gift of spiritual wisdom to make the right choice. Human wisdom enables us to see things through our human eyes and limited experience. Spiritual wisdom enables us to see reality from God’s perspective and not from only ours. Human wisdom is limited to what we can see and hear with our senses. Divine wisdom is described by Paul thus: "What eye has not seen and ear has not heard, what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him."

The Psalmist states that the beginning of this wisdom is the fear of the Lord which is a sense of wonder and awe of God that results in love. This may be what led St. Ignatius of Loyola say: "It is not hard to obey when we love the one whom we obey."

What God sees is not colored by dark glasses, is not less than 20 x 20 vision. What he sees is the truth that will set us free and lead us to eternal union with him. God has given us the spiritual wisdom in Baptism. But like all gifts from God, we need to stir it into flame through praying for a greater release of the gift and exercising it. Seeking the Lord and his ways is to act on what he helps us to see from his perspective.

The focus of the Gospel picks up from the first reading. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to holiness, holiness that is not based on law and obligation, but on love and relationship. Jesus says we must go beyond the letter of the law to the deeper meaning of the law, to the will of God for us.

The religious leaders of his day stressed the external observances of the law but did not look at the internal attitude of the heart. Jesus uses two examples: murder and adultery. Both are wrong. But there is more to both than the actual killing of a person or the act of adultery. What is our attitude towards another? How do we treat the other? How do we respect the other? The anger that Jesus refers to is not something passing but that anger that roots itself in our heart and memory, where we refuse to forgive the person for the perceived harm done to us. That seething anger can lead to other sins against the other, such as speaking badly about him, wishing him evil, etc. These sins are just as evil as that of actually killing that person.

The same is true with adultery. There is sin when we lust after another in our thoughts, through our eyes and in our heart. There is sin when we view pornography or self-gratify sexually. Whatever is contrary to the proper use of the sexual gift in the context of marriage, where true love and union is the end, becomes sinful.

Jesus reminds us that we are called not to a minimal living or legalistic living but a radical living. Holiness is radical. Holiness is love lived out in our relationship to God and others. To grow in holiness is to grow in love; to grow in love is to grow in holiness. To love as God loves is to be holy as God is holy. This is to choose life, to choose good, to choose the life-giving water, with the gift of wisdom guiding us.

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