The power of Choice

Sunday readings in Brief 6 A

Ecclesisticus 15:16-21; Psalm 118(119); 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; Mathew 5:17-37

The power of Choice

Dear friends, today is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A. The readings today converge on the theme of ‘choice’. To choose is to prefer one thing over the other. Apart from life, the second greatest thing that God bestowed man with was freedom of choice. It is amazing that God gave man and woman such freedom even to choose to disobey him. Otherwise, if God had wished, maybe he would have created us with a remote control so that he can dictate all we do. However, because he created us in his own image and likeness, God gave us full freedom, and the knowledge to know what is right, and what is wrong.

However, freedom comes with responsibility for what we choose. The great the freedom, the more responsible we must be. The irony of the matter is that many would like to have as much freedom as they can possibly attain but very few want to take responsibility for their choices. Here is where things become difficult for us.

The first reading talks about freedom of choice in a very candid manner. That God has put before us his commandment to help us live according to his will. The outcome of the choice we make is always twofold: fire and water, life and death. Every action has its outcome, which cannot be separated. God does not judge us cruelly but rather the paths that we freely choose to follow that lead us to the situations in which we find ourselves. The psalmist tells us that, “They are happy who follow God’s law.

St. Paul in the second reading reminds us that the wisdom of God cannot be mastered by the wisest of the earth. It is by faith that we embrace the message of salvation that has been preached to us. Those who deem themselves wise that the mysteries of salvation brought to us through Christ end up missing out on the heavenly banquet that has its preliminaries here on earth and its fulfillment in the life to come. It is their own choice and therefore cannot blame anyone.

If the law does not have life in it it becomes only a dry precept that enslaves us. Many of the Old Testament laws had been relegated to pure compliance without animating the individual or community life. Jesus tells us that he did not come to abolish the law but to give it life so that we may follow it not for the sake of being compliant but because it leads us to God. The old law was explained in terms of reward for compliance and punishment for non-compliance. However, Jesus adds value to the law and makes it preferable to follow. There is a difference between saying to a child, “Do not lie because if you do you will go to hell,” and “Do not lie because lying lowers your credibility and eventually no one will take you seriously even when you tell the truth”.

In the second part of the Gospel, Jesus talks about reconciling with those we have wronged before we are made answerable by law. Until today, many go to caught to defend themselves against the wrongs they have committed. Some, because of the corrupt justice system end up getting away with it but others are found guilty after spending fortunes trying to defend their wrongs.

In the last part of the Gospel, Jesus speaks about the spirit of the law that goes beyond the wrong act itself. Instead of taking oaths that we cannot fulfill their demands, better not to take them at all. When we take an oath, it should be because we are aware of and really want to fulfill its content. If we break it because of our weakness, there is always repentance and amendment.

Dear friends, as we approach the Lenten season, let us think about the freedom that God has given us and ask him for the grace to take responsibility for our choices.

Have a blessed Sunday

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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