Sunday, February 16, 2014

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, February 16, 2014 with Reflection

1ST READING - Sirach 15:15-20
15 If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; 16 he has set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.17 Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him. 18 Immense is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power, and all-seeing. 19 The eyes of God are those who fear him; he understands man’s every deed. 20 No one does he command to act unjustly, to none does he give license to sin.
P S A L M - Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34
R: Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord.
Blessed are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the lawof the Lord. Blessed are they who observe his decrees, who seek him with all their heart. (R) You have commanded that your precepts be diligently kept. Oh, that I might be firm in the ways of keeping your statutes! (R) 17 Be good to your servant, that I may live and keep your words. 18 Open my eyes, that I may consider the wonders of your law. (R) 33 Instruct me, O Lord, in the way of your statutes, that I may exactly observe them. 34 Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart. (R)
2ND READING - 1 Corinthians 2:6-10
Brothers and sisters: We speak a wisdom to those who are mature, but not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away. Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew; for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “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,” 10 this God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
Matthew 5:17-37
17 Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. 19 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. 20 I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21 “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. 23Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny. 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. 31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife — unless the marriage is unlawful — causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 33 “Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. 37 Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.


Once I asked the churchgoers who among them has no enemy. A stern-looking lady raised her hand and stood up. I asked, “You don’t have enemies?” Without batting an eyelash she said, “None!” Knowing her to be unfriendly, I added, “But you don’t have friends either!” She responded hesitantly, “Yeah, right.”

       The Lord in the Gospel invites us to take the extra mile in fulfilling the laws. We cannot profess that we love God but remain indifferent to other people. We cannot claim to be good to others but not love and obey God. It’s not enough to follow the law to the letter. God asks for more. Jesus’ standard of morality is uncompromising and consistent. Adulterers are not only those who commit illicit relationships with the spouse of another. Jesus says anyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery in his heart. For Jesus, it’s not enough that one avoids the sins as taught in the commandments; we need to be cautious in falling into similar sins which we most often think are but natural and human.
       Keeping God’s commandments means putting order into one’s life. One becomes consistent in doing what ought to be done and abhoring what should be avoided. Beyond that, we complement obedience to God by going beyond what is expected of us. God challenges us to make a definitive stand. If you’re good, then be better and do more.
       I have accompanied Ai Ai delas Alas twice to the game show, Deal or No Deal. It is a nerve-wracking game show, consuming and mind-blowing. Every number chosen from the attache cases brings out a surprise. But after the Banker decides on the money at stake, one has to bravely choose between dealing or not, giving in or being firm.
       Our Christian faith and life is like the said game show: “Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no. Anything more is from the evil one.” May we always hack a deal successfully with the Lord! Fr. Erick Y. Santos, OFS
REFLECTION QUESTION: How faithful are you to God’s commandments?
Lord Jesus, make me choose and decide on things as You would.

St. Gilbert of Sempringham, pray for us.

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