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(Part 38)


February 16, 2020

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

To be built on Rock is to listen to and act on God’s words. These words are about the very wisdom of God. “Immense is the wisdom of the Lord; mighty in power, he sees all things.” (Sir 15:18). Awesome is the wisdom of God! And such wisdom is intended for our good. “Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory” (1 Cor 2:7). The mysterious wisdom of God has been there for all eternity for our glory!

Now the wisdom of God is so very totally different from, and even diametrically opposed to, the wisdom of the world. “Yet we do speak a wisdom to those who are mature, but not a wisdom of this age” (1 Cor 2:6a). God’s wisdom is opposed to the zeitgeist, which is about the spirit of the age and man’s “wisdom” that is conformed to the culture of the world. The zeitgeist is about the wisdom “of the rulers of this age who are passing away.” (1 Cor 2:6b). The zeitgeist changes according to the prevailing culture, while God’s wisdom is unchanging and eternal. As Jesus himself said about the law of God: “Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Mt 5:18).

The wisdom of God can even be very different from the wisdom of religious scholars and leaders who profess to adhere to the law of God. Jesus said, “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:20).

How is God’s wisdom so radically different from the wisdom of the world? Here are some of Jesus’ teachings.

  • On anger. People take offense and get angry at other people all the time, including with brethren in Christian community. But Jesus says that “whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Mt 5:22a). In some graver instances, one will even “be liable to fiery Gehenna.” (Mt 5:22c). What does this say about brethren who cause conflict, strife, dissension and disunity in the body?
  • On offering a gift to God on the altar. Jesus says be reconciled with your brother first before offering your gift (Mt 5:23-24). What does this say about Catholics who go to Mass and even receive Holy Communion but are in grievous sin, such as support for abortion, divorce, homosexuality and euthanasia?
  • On adultery. Christians would know that they are not to commit adultery. But Jesus says that to look at a woman with lust is already adultery (Mt 5:28). What does this say about those who indulge in pornography or relish explicit sexual content in movies?
  • On avoiding sin. Christians know they are to avoid sin. But Jesus tells us to tear out our eye or cut off our hand if these cause us to sin (Mt 5:29-30). What does this say about Christians who do not avoid occasions of and for sin?
  • On divorce. In the face of practically all nations in the world legalizing divorce, with the reality that many Catholics have separated or divorced, with some in the Church allowing Communion to those divorced and remarried, Jesus says that divorce and remarriage constitute adultery (Mt 5:32). What does this say about clerics and prelates who give Communion to public sinners and adulterers?
  • On oaths. Jesus tells us not to swear at all but to just be truthful with a plain yes or no (Mt 5:34-37). What does this say about those Christians, including leaders in the Church, who lie, tell half-truths, malign others, renege on commitments, lack integrity?

So God speaks, we listen, and we act on His words. To act is our choice, since God does not impose things on us, even the wondrous things such as His words and salvation. “If you choose, you can keep the commandments” (Sir 15:15a). But we must know that the consequence of our choice is about life and death. “Before everyone are life and death, whichever they choose will be given them.” (Sir 15:17). The choice is about building on rock or on sand, about not collapsing or collapsing. The choice is about being the least or the greatest in the Kingdom of God. “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:19).

Not taking on God’s wisdom has consequences not just on ourselves, but on others in the world. People in the world could end up committing the greatest sins and missing the greatest blessings. So it was that the reigning power and the people and the religious leaders had Jesus crucified. God’s wisdom “none of the rulers of this age knew; for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Cor 2:8).

On the other hand, taking on God’s wisdom and obeying God’s laws bring great blessings. “Blessed those whose way is blameless, who walk by the law of the Lord. Blessed those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with all their heart.” (Ps 119:1-2).

So the way forward for us should be clear. First, we should see and marvel at the wisdom of God’s words. “Open my eyes to see clearly the wonders of your law.” (Ps 119:18).Second, we should have the heartfelt desire to obey and live out God’s law. “Lord, teach me the way of your statutes; I shall keep them with care. Give me understanding to keep your law, to observe it with all my heart.” (Ps 119:33-34). Then third, we should be firm in the observance of God’s ways. “You have given them the command to observe your precepts with care. May my ways be firm in the observance of your statutes!” (Ps 119:4-5).

If we take on God’s wisdom, if we listen to and act on God’s words, then we will be built on the Rock that is Christ. Then we can look to the bountiful blessings God has already prepared for those who love, fear and obey Him. “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).

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