Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 SIR 15:15-20
Responsorial Psalm PS 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34
- Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Reading 2 1 COR 2:6-10
Alleluia MT 11:25
- Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
Homily for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2/15/2020 Sir 15:15-20, 1 Cor 2:6-10, Mt 5:17-37 - More than the minimum
Have you ever known someone who would just do “the minimum”?
Maybe it was a teammate in your life, they would show up to practice and do the minimum asked of them, but they would never put in extra time outside of what was required. It was frustrating, because everyone knew they had a ton of talent, but because they only did the minimum, they never performed to what they could have been.
Maybe it was a coworker in your life, there would be a ton of work to do, but they would only do the bare minimum required of them in order to keep their job and work as little as possible. It was frustrating, because everyone could see places to help each other and succeed together, but they only did the minimum out of selfishness.
I can think of lots of examples, from children to adults, and sometimes even myself, of only wanting to do the minimum, to just get by and settle for mediocrity.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to not just do the minimum. The minimum was defined as the commandments, the Ten Commandments as given to Moses. Our first reading from Sirach began with, “If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;”
Keeping the commandments was the focus of the scribes and Pharisees, that was the minimum that they did and taught others to do.
But Jesus came along and “said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
He goes on to give several examples of this, quoting the commandments, “You shall not kill” and “You shall not commit adultery” but explaining how this is only the minimum, and this is no longer acceptable to just not do these exterior actions, rather anyone who is angry or anyone who looks with lust is guilty in their heart.
See, the Jews became obsessed with the Ten Commandments and how they could just do the minimum, but by just doing the minimum, they would make exceptions for themselves, they would create loopholes to even avoid the minimums.
Two things: first, we should never make exceptions for ourselves. We should never be the exception to the rule. What is good for me should be good for everyone, and if it isn’t, then it is me that needs to change, not everyone else. Otherwise our standards will fall below the minimum, and that's what had happened to the Pharisees.
Sirach said, “Before man are life and death, good and evil,whichever he chooses shall be given him... God... understands man’s every deed. No one does he command to act unjustly, to none does he give license to sin.”
And Jesus goes on to say, “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.”
So we cannot make exceptions for ourselves, whether it is anger or lust, stealing, lying, keeping holy the Lord’s Day or any of the commandments, we must do our best to uphold them for our good and the good of others. No exceptions to the minimums.
Second thing, and this is really the key, love has no minimums. Jesus wants us to choose love, to love God and love our neighbor, but it is our own free choice.
When we truly love God, there is no way we would violate the first three commandments. When we truly love our neighbor, there is no way we would violate the last seven commandments.
That is where Jesus wants us to be, living out of love which doesn't focus on the minimum, love focuses on how much more we can give.
And our model is Jesus himself, who gave everything for us, who although he was innocent, He poured out His blood on the cross, He suffered and died for our sins, so that we can be saved, through our love given as a free response to His.
God knows our heart, He knows how we truly love, and He wants to help us purify our love through the Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps to convict us in the ways we can grow in love.
In our second reading, Paul said, “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.”
This is the good news, that we don’t even know how much God loves us and what He has prepared for us, but we trust in His love, and we look for the Holy Spirit to lead us in how to love God and each other, more than just the minimum.
- I am the Lord your God: You shall not have strange Gods before me.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
- Honor your father and mother.
- You shall not kill.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.