The mysteries of the Kingdom

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 15:15-20

If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him. Immense is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power, and all-seeing. The eyes of God are on those who fear him; he understands man's every deed. No one does he command to act unjustly, to none does he give license to sin.

1 Corinthians 2:6-10

Brothers and sisters: We speak a wisdom to those who are mature, not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away. Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew; for, if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: 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, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

Matthew 5:17-37

Jesus said to his disciples: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 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. 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. I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. "You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin; and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny. "You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. "It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife - unless the marriage is unlawful - causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. "Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow. But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' Anything more is from the evil one."

Like we teach children to wash their hands before eating, we only explain why we wash our hands when they are a bit older to ensure they are not blindly fol-lowing our instructions but truly understand the reasons behind. That way, they would wash their hands faithfully out of choice because they know it is for their well-being. They may even explain it to other children so that more would understand and do the same.

In this Sunday’s gospel reading, Jesus teaches us not to observe the command-ments literally. We must live the spirit of the commandments, follow a higher order of morality and achieve a level of righteousness that makes us fit for heaven, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:19). Having said this, Jesus leaves the choice to us. He said, “whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:20). We are given the freedom to choose. At the end of the day, we will be accountable for our choice of how we live on earth. In fact, humankind has been given this freedom of choice since the days of the Old Testament, “If you choose, you can keep the commandments, and they will save you” (Sirach 15:15).

Let us see how Jesus teaches us to observe the fifth commandment “Thou shalt not kill” in order to achieve a higher level of righteousness. He said “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; … But I say to you that the one who is angry with their brother or sister, will be liable to judgment; … and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Mt 5:22). Jesus our Redeemer comes to this world not only to save us from our sins but He also wants us to stay away from what looks like a behaviour flaw, an outburst of uncontrolled passion, emotion or feelings (anger) that might lead to a grave sin in the fifth commandment (murder). What Jesus asks for is peace of heart and he denounces “murderous anger and hatred as immoral” (Ref CCC 2302). Indeed, the Church considers wrath one of the seven capital sins, called “capital” because they engender other sins and vices (Ref CCC 1866).

To perceive the commandments in the way that Jesus teaches us, we have to have an open mind like children “Blessed are you, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth; you have revealed to the little ones the mysteries of the kingdom” (Ref. Gospel Acclamation Mt 11:25). As St. Paul proclaims in the second reading, what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, “God has revealed to us through the Spirit (1 Cor 2:10).

Let us join the Psalmist and pray to the Holy Spirit to enable, empower and guide us to choose the way of truth so that we “may behold wondrous things out of your law”, “walk in the law of the Lord” and “observe it with our whole heart” until the end (Ps. 119).

Posted: February 16, 2020

Shiu Lan

Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.

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