Sirach 15: 15-20; Matthew 5: 17-37
I’m guessing most of us agree that falling in love is bound to happen in our lives. The hard part is staying in love and falling in love over and over again and choosing love to lead us in life and in our many relationships. If there’s a bottom line for all that these readings say today, and there is a lot to digest, it’s is about living a life rooted in love. We know that we will all fall short, leading to invitations to go deeper in our relationship with God and others.
All of the commandments that Jesus addresses today are relational. There can sometimes be nothing more difficult in our lives than relationships and the many people that cross our path throughout our lives. With them we bring all of our own baggage as well as theirs and somehow we are supposed to try to make it work. Those who live the married life know that it takes a great deal of work and constantly choosing love. Sirach in all his wisdom today makes it sound so simple and easy to choose life over death and to take responsibility for how we choose.
Jesus, on the other hand, I believe makes a different point into the grey areas of our lives; the place where we spend most of our lives because so many choices are not made as conscious decisions. Over and over again he says, “the law says, but I say.” Jesus isn’t throwing out the law on killing, divorce, adultery, oaths or anything else, but what he tries to stress is that in life and in our lives, there are day to day decisions that we so often are unaware of that lead us to “breaking” these laws. Most don’t wake up in the morning thinking that they are going to kill the other, but rather what he speaks of is what leads to killing, and not just physical, but any desecration of life, is anger and grudges, and the inability to reconcile and judgment and all of this stuff festering in our hearts that lead to a break in relationship with God and others. The law gives us something to buck up against. Jesus gives us the grace to reconcile and to choose love, to choose life over death.
So much of this comes to fruition when we can work on ourselves through God’s grace to live honest lives and to observe our behaviors with our inner motives. None of us, again, will live up to it all, but the more we are aware and live our lives consciously, the more we will choose life and love and our behaviors and actions will reconcile with our inner motives. We pray for that awareness in our lives, the grey that often gets lost in our striving for black and white when God’s grace is so often somewhere in between leading us to love.