February 16, 2020
It is so easy to read these Commandments and not really understand how to apply them to ourselves. This Sunday's readings can help us to look a little deeper into how God, in His mercy, is helping us once again.
This prophet is addressing a people living in Egypt some 130 years or so before Christ. Many have lost all their heritage, their language (Hebrew) and their belief in God, instead they have turned to the pagan gods of the people they were living around. Sirach encouraged the people to return to God and to remember all that God had done for them in their history. But...God does not force anyone.
We can just look at the history of the Old Testament, of God's Chosen People, and see that He leaves them free. Is that not also true of us?
We are given the freedom to follow God or, like God's chosen people that Sirach was addressing, to follow the pagan gods.
For us today our pagan gods can be money, power, security, good health, popularity, sex, possessions etc.
Every day we are given a choice.
Will we follow the pagan gods that give temporary peace or follow our God who guarantees eternal peace???
St.Paul writes to his Christian Community living in the midst of pagans, of non believers, just like us today. He reinforces that they will not find the peace they want from the gods around them, but in the way of God, which even today the world does not understand or seek.
In the Gospel St. Mathew continues to give us another part of the Sermon on the Mount.
Are we willing to listen?
Or like the scribes and Pharisees, those who considered themselves very holy, close our ears and hearts.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we are doing a pretty good job, or that we just give up, by thinking that what God has given us and asked of us is impossible.
The Commandments were never given as laws we must continually try to follow. Rather, they are help us to see that we need to continually pray for the grace from God to convert and have the Commandments become a part of our lives.
I know for me, I need to continually ask God to convert my heart so that through his grace I can daily go out of my way for others.
Isn't that what the real purpose of the Commandments of God are about; to see our failures in some areas and to pray for the mercy and conversion God is always willing to give as He leads us to eternal peace, eternal life?
Every day and in every situation we need to again and again ask God for his gift of a change of heart, conversion, and to become what the response to this Sunday's Psalm 119 says...