Do our choices, behavior reflect the love of God?

By: By Sharon Priester

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Feb. 16

Sirach 15:15-20; Psalm 119:1-2,4-5,17-18,33-34; 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; Matthew 5:17-37

Just recently, as my husband and I were watching the news, Scott Pelley introduced an “On the Road” segment by Steve Hartman titled “N.C. man finds silver lining after ALS diagnosis.” I was struck by this man, Chris Rosati from North Carolina, whose purpose in life is to make an impact on others. To do this, he is in the process of making a documentary, “The Blessings of My Disease.” It will show his life as it is now as well as some interviews with people who are living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Chris and those he interviewed felt that they had in common “a wisdom beyond them,” an overwhelming love for all people and an appreciation of each day. He certainly didn’t choose to have this disease. However, I believe that by accepting what had been laid in front of him, he is freely choosing to shed a light on the wisdom, love and appreciation of life that he and others with ALS have, for as many people as possible.

From the time of creation, God has given each of us free will to make choices, “to do good and to avoid sin.” (U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, p. 194) In the first reading, Sirach tells the people they can’t blame sin on anyone else but themselves. God has given to each person the choice to “keep the commandments,” and “trust in God.” For example, when they have the opportunity to put their hand in either “fire and water” that is set before them, and they choose to put their hand in fire and are burned, they cannot blame God. God gave them what they chose. They are responsible for what they have done.

FOCUS ON ATTITUDES
In the Gospel, Jesus and his disciples have gone up the mountain where he begins to teach them saying, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” Recall that the prophets announced that a virgin would bear a son, whose name would be Emmanuel, a ruler that would be a light before others. Now he is there before them.

He goes on to say that he is not doing away with the commandments. The scribes and the Pharisees expected the people to obey the commandments though their actions. Jesus instead, was more focused on the person’s thoughts and the attitudes in their heart. He goes on to explain this.

He says that the people had heard that they should not kill. If they have something against their brother, instead of killing him, they should go and be reconciled with him. They had heard that they should not commit adultery, but he says that if they saw a woman and looked at her with lust in their heart they had already committed adultery and sinned. They had heard that they should not make a false oath or promise, but he says they had not spoken truthfully from their heart. Moreover, he went on to say that if they had something that caused them to sin, it should be removed. Their choices and behavior were to reflect their love of God and people. So should our choices and behavior.

ARE WE READY?
Paul told the Corinthians that God’s wisdom had been revealed to them through Christ. The U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults tells us God’s “revelation reached its fullness in Jesus Christ.” (p. 18)

It is through the Word of God that you can discover “what he has prepared for you.” The words of Psalm 119 would be a perfect place to start. Will you be counted among those who are blessed because you “follow the law of the Lord?” (Ps. 119:1)

Are you ready to follow the law of the Lord, to love God and others? Like Chris Rosati, can you accept and appreciate what God has given you? Are you willing to try to shed the light of Christ and his love on as many people as possible?

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SHARON PRIESTER has served as a parish catechist and director of religious education, Bible study leader, RCIA team member and coordinator, and regional director of religious education for the Diocese of Peoria. She is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington.

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