Fr. Paul MacNeil
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lately, I have noticed that my homilies have taken a real "ethical" turn. Last week, for example, I commented on an article in the Toronto Star about people who have no qualms about stealing from the self-service checkout. I contrasted that with the Massechusets police officer who gave $250.00 to a woman caught in a similar situation. Sometimes I think we do need to pay attention to our conscience, I don't think it would feel particularly good if we "stole" something even if we needed it. On the other hand, I bet that police officer felt incredible after doing that, even without the recognition.
Today I draw your attention to the 34-year-old elected official from the house of representatives to the south of who admitted embellishing his résumé but denied wrongdoing. He repeatedly said he would not resign. What is our world coming to? I think when Jesus reminds us as he does today that he does not come "to abolish the law and the prophets," he is reminding us of the importance of these fundamentals:
“I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill. For I tell you unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I've shared this tune before:
Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days
Sometimes it feels like this world's gone crazy
Grandpa, take me back to yesterday
When the line between right and wrong
Didn't seem so hazy
Did lovers really fall in love to stay
And stand beside each other, come what may?
Was a promise something people kept
Not just something they would say
Did families bow their heads to pray?
Did daddies never go away?
Whoa, whoa, grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days
So today I have three pairs of opposites for your consideration, and I'd like to simply back them up with a few words of scripture:
Truth vs. Lies - we've already seen the example above:
Prov 12:22: Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
1 John 13:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
John 8:31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Generosity Vs. Greed. What is greed? Greed is one of the 7 deadly sins, he who dies with the most toys wins. This is reflected in consumerism, overwork, the drive to have more things. I’ve learned that the key to financial peace is remarkably simple: Spend less than you earn. I love the sign on the wall of a store: easy payment plan. Pay now in cash. No interest, no payments. Ever. Here are some scripture passages:
Proverbs 11:24: Some give freely yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due and only suffer want. A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water.
1 Timothy 6:9-10 :But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
Luke 12:32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Love vs. Hate. Amanda Todd committed suicide. If you want to stir feelings of grief and sadness, watch her video that went viral. I can't watch it - it was just a series of very sad flash cards, one of which read "I need someone." I came across this definition of bullying: "abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc. Bullying occurs when someone decides to exercise dominance over another person by harming them emotionally or physically. Once they've managed to inflict enough pain, the person on the receiving end may begin to experience a lack of self-esteem and confidence. Without intervention, this cycle typically continues, making the target of the behaviour easier to dominate over time as they grow weaker and more hopeless about the situation. Left unchecked, the effects of bullying can often be tragic." A huge understatement. A recent survey found that 23% of Canadian students from grades 4-11 have said or done something mean or cruel to someone online, while 37% reported that someone has said or done mean or cruel things to them online that made them feel badly (Steeves, 2014). Why are we so mean to each other? Here are some scripture passages to reflect on:
1 Cor. 13:4-8: "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."
I give you a new commandment that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
These contrasting opposites are not only a recognition of the source of virtue, but a call to action. As Christians we are not only called to know goodness and peace, but to actually do it. Feel free to join me:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not seek so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.