Homily for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)
Audio for homily
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So, Sirach tells us God sets before us:
“good and evil, life and death…”
and that we’re to stretch forth our hands, we’re to reach for
good over evil and life over death.
Those are pretty heavy categories to contend with!
Sometimes, some of us do actually face off with “good and evil”
and sometimes we have to make real “life or death decisions.”
More often, however, we face smaller challenges
but even these fall under the headings of good and evil
and ultimately lead us in the direction of life - or death.
What kind of challenges am I talking about?
The kind we meet day in and day out.
Who among us isn’t familiar
with almost daily choices to be made
between telling the truth and lying,
between selfishness and self-sacrifice,
between greed and generosity,
between fair play and cutting corners,
between good thoughts and lusty fantasies,
between foolishness and wisdom,
between justice and fraud,
between welcoming others in or shutting others out of our life,
between fidelity and cheating,
between healthy entertainment and junk food for the mind,
between speaking a cruel or a kind word,
between gossip and minding one’s own business,
between laziness an reaching out to others,
between wasting time and using it well…
And these are just some of the many choices
that fall under the categories of good and evil, of life and death.
When faced with these options,
to which do we “stretch forth our hands”?
what do we reach for?
what do we try to grasp and hope to hold in our hearts?
Not every choice or decision is a “life or death” choice or decision.
But everything we think and say and do does fall somewhere
along the spectrum between what’s right and what’s wrong.
Everything we think and say and do
leads us, ultimately, to either a deeper life and love of God
or a lesser life that weakens and drains
our potential for goodness, for greatness,
for becoming the person God made and called each of us to be.
It’s very easy, isn’t it,
for any of us to point to choices and decisions others make,
and to criticize them for making what we deem to be
wrong decisions and immoral choices.
But the scriptures today call us to look at ourselves first
to see if we have, if we exercise what St. Paul calls wisdom,
a wisdom much wiser that that of his age
or our own time, some 2,000 years later.
This is the wisdom that bids us seek the truth
and to live by the truth once we find it.
This is the wisdom of a studied and well-formed conscience.
This is the wisdom of those with courage enough
to speak up and act when the truth demands it
and to hold our tongue when silence is called for.
This is the wisdom of common sense,
a wisdom that survives the ages,
even when common sense is periodically
corrupted and misshapen by the fads and trends of the day.
This is the wisdom that counsels us,
to say, Yes when we mean Yes
and to say No when we mean No.
This is the wisdom we need
to be honest, loyal, and faithful to the truth
in all that we say and do.
This is the wisdom that’s nourished and nurtured in us
every time we come to this table
to receive the gift of God’s Wisdom,
God’s Word, become flesh for us,
the wisdom of Jesus, laid down for us on the Cross
and offered to us in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.
Every day, God sets before each of us
good and evil, life and death.
Pray that we stretch forth our hands, that we reach for,
that we find and prize
that goodness that serves God and neighbor
and anything and everything that deepens our life in God
who is our greatest and our only true Wisdom.
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