Wednesday, February 8, 2017

February 12, 2017 - Choose Life!

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A

Reading I:   Sir 15:15-20
Response: Psalm 119
Reading II:  1 Cor 2: 6-10
Gospel:  Mt 5:17-37

The Sacred Scriptures encourage us to “Choose Life.” (Deuteronomy 30:19). This is an important choice for both our earthly life and our eternal life. God has provided us with guidelines for our happiness in the Ten Commandments. However, Jesus, deepens and expands the meaning of the simple commandments.

Jesus explains that we not only should not physically kill another person, but we also must not kill his or her spirit through angry words or actions. Not only should we abstain from adultery, we should also refrain from lusting after another even in one’s heart.

When asked which is the greatest of the commandments, Jesus speaks of loving God, our neighbor, and ourselves. In other words, to Choose Life is to Choose Love.

Jesus then presents The Beatitudes to us as an additional guide. At the first hearing, The Beatitudes seem to go against happiness. However, in God’s wisdom, he knows what is best for us. Living a life of faith and of love, rather than seeking wealth, prestige, comfort, revenge, or selfishness, can bring us inner peace and joy.

I still recall the joy of the elderly couple in rural Church Point, Louisiana.  Sr. Ivan took me to visit them since I had never been in a poor rural area. I was deeply touched by the joy and gratitude to God that the elderly expressed, in spite of the humble shack in which they lived.

While campus minister at Xavier University of Louisiana, I was impressed with the joy of the young men and women who had come from difficult circumstances. When praying, they were thanking God for many things, including getting them up in the morning. Not being a morning person myself, I had never even thought of thanking God for getting me up in the morning. While at Xavier, the highlight of my week was the Saturday evening Mass, during which the choir sang Gospel hymns with deep faith and joy.

Jesus embodied all the virtues he encouraged his followers to develop. He must have been a happy, positive human being or He would not have drawn the crowds to listen to Him.  eople are usually attracted to others who are positive and peaceful. Therefore, as we reflect on The Beatitudes listed above, let us ask the Lord to help us to incorporate the virtues into our own lives so that we can become not just an admirer of Jesus, but also his follower.

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...

Elige la vida

Las Sagradas Escrituras nos animan a “Elegir la Vida” (Deuteronomio 30:19). Esta es una elección importante tanto para nuestra vida terrenal como para nuestra vida eterna. Dios nos ha provisto de pautas para nuestra felicidad en los Diez Mandamientos. Sin embargo, Jesús, profundiza y amplía el significado de los mandamientos simples.

Jesús explica que no sólo no debemos matar físicamente a otra persona, sino que tampoco debemos matar a su espíritu a través de palabras o acciones enojadas. No sólo debemos abstenerse del adulterio, también debemos abstenerse de lujuria tras otro incluso en el corazón.

Cuando se le pregunta cuál es el más grande de los mandamientos, Jesús habla de amar a Dios, a nuestro prójimo ya nosotros mismos. En otras palabras, elegir la vida es elegir el amor.

Jesús nos presenta las Bienaventuranzas como una guía adicional. En la primera audiencia, las Bienaventuranzas parecen ir contra la felicidad. Sin embargo, en la sabiduría de Dios, él sabe lo que es mejor para nosotros. Vivir una vida de fe y de amor, en lugar de buscar riqueza, prestigio, consuelo, venganza o egoísmo, puede traernos paz interior y alegría.

Todavía recuerdo la alegría de la pareja de ancianos en Church Point, Louisiana. El señor Ivan me llevó a visitarlos desde que nunca había estado en una zona rural pobre. Me emocionó profundamente la alegría y la gratitud a Dios que expresaron los ancianos, a pesar de la humilde choza en que vivían.

Mientras trabajaba en el campus de la Universidad Xavier de Louisiana, me impresionó la alegría de los jóvenes que habían venido de circunstancias difíciles. Al orar, estaban agradeciendo a Dios por muchas cosas, incluso levantándolas por la mañana. No siendo una persona de la mañana, nunca había pensado en agradecer a Dios por haberme levantado por la mañana. Mientras que en Xavier, lo más destacado de mi semana fue la misa del sábado por la noche, durante la cual el coro cantó himnos del Evangelio con profunda fe y alegría.

Jesús encarnó todas las virtudes que animó a sus seguidores a desarrollar. Debe haber sido un ser humano feliz y positivo, o no habría atraído a las multitudes para escucharlo. Las personas suelen ser atraídas por otros que son positivos y pacíficos. Por lo tanto, a medida que reflexionamos sobre las Bienaventuranzas antes mencionadas, pidamos al Señor que nos ayude a incorporar las virtudes en nuestras propias vidas para que podamos llegar a ser no sólo un admirador de Jesús, sino también su seguidor.


  1. I really appreciate how you highlighted the pain of an abused Spirit. While physical injury is visible, and thus, the potential exists for treatment, intervention, and healing, an injured Spirit often goes unnoticed when the person who is hurting buries the hurt and pain. Feelings of shame, and possibly fear, may cause one to hide the agony rather than seek a trusted person with whom they can talk and restore their crushed Spirit. This can be a very dark dwelling place and is a terrible burden for anyone to carry. It is troubling that we would choose to hurt another with mean, angry, words.
    Words matter. They have the power to elevate or to extinguish. They can create trust and connection or stir up fear and disconnect. Jesus invites us to a new way of living and loving that is life enhancing and sustaining. It is a call to intentional living – to be light and salt and to not give into darkness. It is so important to God that He instructs, “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.”
    Jesus came to reconcile. He calls us to be bridge builders, not wall builders. Pastor Rick Warren says, “it is always more rewarding to resolve the conflict than to dissolve the relationship. It is not easier, but it’s more rewarding.” It is also healthier. The more we nurture hurt, anger, and resentment, the more toxic our thoughts become and we begin to manifest physical maladies such as high blood pressure, addiction, heart disease, even cancer. For sure, negative thinking robs us of our joy and we lose our flavor. In Deuteronomy 30:19 God says, "I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live." Henry Nouwen writes,
    "Choose life." That's God's call for us, and there is not a moment in which we do not have to make that choice. Life and death are always before us. In our imaginations, our thoughts, our words, our gestures,our actions ... even in our non-actions. This choice for life starts in a
    deep interior place. Underneath very life-affirming behavior I can still harbor death-thoughts and death-feelings. The most important question is not "Do I kill?" but "Do I carry a blessing in my heart or a curse?" The bullet that kills is only the final instrument of the hatred
    that began being nurtured in the heart long before the gun was picked up.”
    What we give energy to grows. Let’s focus on forgiveness, healing and reconciliation so that we can enjoy the peace that is beyond understanding and experience the genuine joy of living.

  2. Yes, definitely! We certainly wish to choose life don't we?

    The following excerpts are from "Catholic Doors Ministry":

    "Jesus brought a message of love to the world. He taught us that love overcomes everything! Jesus overcame the world (Jn. 16:33). He did not allow himself to be overcome by evil, but overcame evil by goodness (Rom. 12:21). The one who overcomes the world is from God (Jn. 4:4), being a child of God.'

    "The Almighty Father is concerned for our salvation that is obtained through the spiritual growth of our soul, the living of our faith in Jesus Christ. By his grace, we are given the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit to transform us into holy children.

    To become holy children, we must reconcile with our brothers and sisters, first of all being concerned with our spiritual maturity. It is not important what others think because we have forgiven someone who was hurting us. What is important is that we have obeyed God's command to love one another."

    "Today's readings teach us that in our lives, our work, and even in our social lives, we must seek out our spiritual maturity. We must open our spiritual minds to the Holy Spirit, who searches everything, even the depths of God, so we can know the will of God in all things. Knowing the will of God, we must be moved to act upon it, performing the acts of goodwill that the Holy Spirit inspires us to do.

    We must stop looking at hardships and sufferings of life as punishments from God. Rather, we must ask ourselves: "What does
    God want me to learn from this? What virtue can I gain from this hardship or suffering? Can I learn not to be judgmental?"

    "When we have learned what God is trying to teach us, having been disciplined by the grace of a loving Heavenly Father, and having been purified by the fire of the Holy Spirit, then, my brothers and sisters,, we will begin to shine as children of God in the likeness of God Himself."

    Catholic Doors Ministry

    Feb. 12, 2017

    Rom. 12:21