Homily for 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A, 2023 - Dcn Jim Curtain
Last week we heard Jesus calling us to be salt and light, to make a difference in the world. This week Jesus tells us some of the detail, and it’s an even greater challenge.
We’re called, not just to obey the law, but to change ourselves so that we don’t need an imposed law, imposed by government or church, but that we at a deep level know how to live love. This is wisdom.
When we hear Jesus’ sermon, what Paul says in 1 Corinthians today is true: we are called to live, not according to the wisdom of this age, but according to God’s wisdom. That wisdom, Paul reminds us, has been revealed to us in the life of Jesus made known to us, "through the Spirit."
Through the gift of the Spirit we have come to accept Jesus Christ as God’s full revelation in the flesh. That’s our faith as Christians. We need to remind ourselves today that the same Spirit makes it possible for us to live according to Jesus’ teaching. After all, Jesus isn’t just giving us a stricter, higher code of ethics, he’s not just giving us tougher rules. That’s not what makes his teachings special. Rather, through our baptism and the gift of his Spirit, we have the desire and divine power to live with, as Jesus tells us, a "holiness that surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees”. What does Jesus mean by that? He means that we shouldn’t be satisfied with a superficial, exterior performance of commandments, but that we are called to a far more profound response – deeper, interior change that will enable us to do as he instructs.
We Christians are called to a different way of living, in our relations to each other and then to the world. We seek reconciliation where there is anger and alienation. We tame our desires despite the license of the world around us. We are faithful to one another and so, when we make promises, we keep them.
This may seem impractical, even impossible. When we look at ourselves and examine our consciences we might think ‘I still get angry over trifles’, or we might think ‘I’m greedy’, or we might think ‘I’m selfish’, or we might think ‘I have an addiction to drugs, or alcohol, or pornography’. Examining our consciences, our lives, we might well ask ourselves ‘How can I be holy?’.
The apostle Paul certainly asked himself that question, and as part of his answer he talks of the hidden wisdom of God. In other letters he tells us that this is Christ crucified and risen, that life, not death, is the final word, and that Christ lives in us.
If we want to be holy, we must open up to the life of Christ. Serve others in love, as Jesus served others by comforting, feeding and healing the sick. When there is injustice, speak the truth to those in power, as Jesus did when he confronted the powerful religious establishment of his time. Pray that the Spirit will be within us to strengthen our love and give us courage. Celebrate the sacraments, so that we share in the Body and Blood of Christ, and are forgiven and strengthened by grace.
God’s wisdom is that we are called to be people of love, service and courage. God calls us all to be holy. Yes, it may need a deep, interior change, but we can choose to at least start that change and follow Christ, we can choose to pray, we can choose to love and serve those around us.