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Friday, 10 February 2023 17:38

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A - 2023

Fr Yon Wiryono headshot 150My dear brothers and sisters,

Jesus, through the Gospel this 6th Sunday of ordinary time, reminds us to live out our Christian life in the light of the moral values inspired and grounded on love, because God is love. Let’s reflect on its implication by looking at the following three points that become what St Paul says in the second reading the hidden wisdom of God, the things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit who reaches the depths of everything.

Do not imagine I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets TwitterFirstly, reconciliation; the fruit of love. Jesus reminds us to go back to the very core of who we are; people of love and created for that purpose. Certainly, reconciliation is the bridge to bring us back to who we already are. Jesus takes the example from the fifth Commandment “you must not kill”. However, Jesus makes his point firmly by saying not even killing; anyone who is angry with his brother will answer it before the court. What does it mean for us? Here, Jesus teaches us, his people, about love in the form of reconciliation.

As people of love, we have got to be reconciled to one another. As children of God, children of love, we cannot live with anger and hostility all the time with others. Jesus makes his point: forget about killing, even when you get angry with others, you need to sort it out, and you need to be reconciled. To make his point clear and firm, Jesus even said if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering at the altar, first go and be reconciled with your brother and sister, then come to offer your gift to God. Be reconciled with your opponent before you reach the court. Jesus reminds us of the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation as our Christian way of life. 

Secondly, the Christian moral compass and values. Jesus talks about the moral value here by taking an example from the Ten Commandments. You shall not commit adultery. Let’s focus more on the moral values behind the action. It’s such a revolutionary understanding when Jesus goes deeper to show us the moral compass that we need to follow in all our action. Jesus said: I say to you, even, NOT just talk about adultery, if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 

In the moral context, the criterion of whether a certain action is morally right or wrong is judged by thoughts, intentions and motives as well as action. Jesus in this case set up a high standard for our morality: if you have a bad intention in your hearts, it’s a sin already. Jesus expects us to meet the highest standard ever set for morality, which is, to focus on the action is not enough but it starts right from the intention in heart, because all things come from the hearts, the good things and the evil things. Jesus shows Himself as the One who completes the law and brings it into the fullness of truth. The truth is that we have to value and respect the dignity of each person as created in the images and likeness of God, and not seen as an object. We believe in the respect for sexuality that is shown in not using a person.

To be more firm on his point, Jesus goes on, “… if your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out, for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body thrown into hell. As well as If your right hand should cause you to sin, cut it off, for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body thrown into hell”. Of course we don’t take this statement literally, however Jesus makes his point very clear to reflect the purpose of our body to do God’s will, and not evil. Our physical body is meant to be the instrument of God’s love.

Thirdly, the value of honesty and truthfulness. Jesus said “All you need to say is, yes if you mean yes, and no if you mean no”. There no need to swear at all. Anything more than this comes from the evil one. Jesus’ point here is that a good Christian does not have to swear at all, because a true Christian is a reliable and totally honest person. Our honesty should be such that people know that or ‘Yes’ means always and only yes, and our ‘No’ means just no.  We don’t need other external things like swearing to prove our honesty. It doesn’t mean that we don’t make mistakes. We do make mistakes, however an honest person has no problem admitting it.

To conclude, the list of some of Jesus’ sayings in the Gospel this Sunday gives us much guidance and rich spiritual treasure in the way we follow God’s Commandments of love. Everything must come down to love as the greatest commandment. The way we follow the religious regulations must go deeper and be an affair of love from the heart. Our religious practice must not centre on the external but come from within our heart. As Christians, our values, moral consideration and moral compass are very deeply grounded on the greatest commandments to love God and our neighbor.

When the Pharisees kept the law, they wanted to obey God, but very often neglected the needs of others. But hopefully for us, we observe our religious practice, follow the moral ‘do’s and don’ts, etc not simply as a formalistic fulfillment of regulations but inspired by love and open to the mystery of God’s love in our lives. Living the true spirit of the law or commandments, which is love, is not to burden us, but to help us learn the way of love and become a member of the family of God. As Pope Francis says: “It is not enough to just respect the commandments and do nothing more. Christian life is not just an ethical life, but it is an encounter with Jesus Christ.”

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In the spirit of reconciliation, the Society of the Divine Word, Australia Province, acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, sky, and community.

We acknowledge their skin-groups, story-lines, traditions, religiosity and living cultures.

We pay respect to their elders, past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all indigenous peoples of New Zealand, Thailand, and Myanmar.

We are committed to building with them, a brighter future together.