Sirach 15: 15-20 1 Corinthians 2: 6-10 Matthew 5: 20-22a, 27-28, 33-34a
However we might happen to appreciate it, we all possess the freedom to make choices. This ability is based on the “free will” that has been given to us by our Creator God. It is among the greatest gifts we receive in life.
A central thought found in the communication God makes to us today is this matter of making choices. Which way do we want to go? How do we want to act? What do we want to be? What do we want to become as we go through our daily lives? These are some of the significant choices we can make.
In this communication from our God, we heard first from the wise man, Sirach. Trusting God, he tells us, is a choice that we can make in guiding our lives. We can choose what will enhance life or what will brings death. We can choose what will be for our good, or what will lead to evil for ourselves and for others. God did not give us life so that we can act unjustly and harm the relationships we experience. At the same time, however, it is our decision how we make this choice to make even if it is not what God wants for us. A relationship with God can guide us but God does not force us in the choiceS we might make.
We then heard Saint Paul speak of the result of making a choice that is based on a relationship with God. It is the beginning of true wisdom. Wisdom is not just knowledge or understanding, rather, it is insight and perception and appreciation of the whole of God’s loving plan. Paul calls it a mystery, but not in the sense of something that is hidden. It is a mystery such as love is a mystery that cannot be fully explained but is both experienced by us and appreciated.
In the Gospel passage we heard from St. Matthew, Jesus talks about the ways of behaving that his listeners have been taught. In doing so he also offers a challenge to us to strengthen the relationship between God and ourselves. What he is seeking for us to understand is that we can choose to be, we can choose to do, more in our lives because we are loved by God. We can do more because we have been given capabilities by God that are part of our very nature as human being.
We can choose to abuse and manipulate others for our own purposes or choose to respect and to honor one another because in different way each of us can reflect the goodness of God. We can choose to use others for our own pleasure, whether sexual or otherwise, or choose to respect and honor the qualities that each of us possess in being images of the goodness of God. We can choose to deceive and to lie to others for our own gains, or choose to honor and to respect others with truthfulness and honesty because of the dignity we all possess as creatures of God and shared in humanity with the God-man, Jesus Christ.
These are choices that we can make because of the way we have been created by our loving God. These are choices we can make day after day in the way we live based on a faith we have been give, a faith that has been handed on to us.
It is this faith that allows us to speak and to live the true wisdom described by Saint Paul. It is a wisdom that reflects a knowledge and understanding of God and of God’s presence in our lives. It is a wisdom that appreciates the depth of God’s love for us. It is a wisdom made known to us by Jesus Christ and lived by us in response to our good and gracious God.