Homily for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's liturgy)After I realize I’ve made a bad choice
Audio for homily
Audio for homily
and I’m suffering the consequences of it,
it’s not unusual for me to wish I had been a little bit wiser.
On the other hand, it seems that while I’m making a choice
wisdom is sometimes the last thing I want - or look for - or depend on,
especially if I suspect that wisdom will lead me to a choice contrary
to the one I want or I’m inclined to make on my own.
We live in times when individual, independent choice is exalted -
as if choosing, in and of itself, were a virtue.
But virtue doesn’t lie in the choice itself.
- Virtue lies in the wisdom of choosing what’s right
when what’s wrong can be so attractive.
- Virtue lies in the wisdom of choosing what’s true
when what’s false or half-true make things so much easier.
- Virtue lies in the wisdom of choosing what’s just
when what’s selfish promises to be so rewarding.
- Virtue lies in the wisdom of choosing what’s truly beautiful
when the tainted and tawdry masquerade as art.
- Virtue lies in the wisdom of choosing what’s pure
when what’s cheap and lustful is so seductive.
Virtue like this is available to those who understand
that every significant choice is between:
something right and something wrong,
something true and something false,
something wise and something foolish.
Most of us have the sense to know
that foolish choices harm us and others
-- but even with this knowledge,
we often lack the wisdom to pay attention to what we know.
Sirach wrote that God sets before us fire and water
and invites us to stretch forth our hand over the one we choose.
Who among us has not reached for the fire and been burned?
And who among us has not reached for the fire, again and again?
And how many times will we be burned
before we learn to reach as God’s wisdom counsels us?
How is that we so often make not the wise, but the foolish choice?
All of today’s scriptures are about the choices we make.
In the gospel, Jesus names some particular choices:
life or death, fidelity or adultery, telling the truth and lying.
But it’s Sirach who gets us to the heart of the matter,
reminding us that if we’re wise enough to keep the commandments,
we will be saved -
saved at least from the folly and harm
that breaking the commandments regularly brings us.
Sirach is reminding us that we get what we choose,
so to choose what God counsels us is to choose wisely.
Strange, isn’t it?
I doubt that anyone of us here would claim to be wiser than God
and yet time and time again we choose our own way,
our own limited view of things, our own insight
all that we choose over the immense wisdom of God who sees everything,
who understands our every thought before we think it,
who would never counsel us to choose foolishly,
who would never counsel us towards harm.
St. Paul distinguishes between fads that pass themselves off as wisdom,
and a wisdom that is timeless,
the mysterious wisdom that is God’s.
This wisdom God offers us
in the scriptures, in the teachings of the Church,
in our heart of hearts, in our deepest conscience,
even in our common sense:
wisdom offered to us that we might see and know and understand
and choose, wisely…
Perhaps we need to develop a hunger for wisdom.
The Hebrew scriptures speak of Wisdom as a mother,
a mother who built herself a house
and then prepared a table for her children.
Here is Wisdom’s table
and she has set it for us, her foolish children,
that we might feast on a wisdom our own times do not recognize.
Here we are nourished by God’s Word of wisdom,
the Word crucified for us:
folly for many, but for believers - the fullness of life.
Pray that we open our hearts and souls,
our eyes and ears, our minds and bodies
for the wisdom to see as God sees,
to know as God knows,
to judge as God judges,
and to choose as God’s Spirit leads us.
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