Religion in Ireland
Gospel Reflection for the Sixth Sunday Ordinary Time Year A – February 16th 2014
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on the Catholic Ireland website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish them but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.
‘For I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.
‘You have learnt how it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body thrown into hell. And if your right hand should cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body go to hell.
‘It has also been said: Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a writ of dismissal. But I say this to you: everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of fornication, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
‘Again, you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you: do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is God’s throne; or by the earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great king. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’
We say – ‘Walk it as you talk it’. We look for integrity and sincerity in people. We examine all the political promises and wonder what’s behind it? Do they really care? In the church and its leadership we expect the way we live to be from the gospel.
Jesus condemned the shallow virtue and outer loyalty of some people. They were very religious people but had lost the centre. This was the centre of love, compassion and joy. When the centre goes, small things become too important.
True Religion is of the heart. Religion can be used use it for many purposes. You can go to mass to worship God, engage in prayer or to get votes! The church is struck now to look at what is really important in faith. The loyalty first is to the word of God – to read it, believe it and live it. And then to be engaged in the suffering of people. The suffering of people opens the door to the kingdom of God.
In this we find true religion. We can die more as a country and a church, or look to God and be brought to life – in prayer, love and service. Three ways of compassion.
That’s real wisdom, – wisdom in action. What we do in love and service brings our religion deep to the heart. We live by the words of Jesus and do his deeds– so that our heart may grow to be like the heart of God.
Lord, may your kingdom come, and your will be done among us.
Donal Neary SJ