Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time (June 15, 2018): What needs to be cut off and thrown out?

Thứ Năm, 14-06-2018 | 15:00:08

Today’s Readings:

1 Kings 19:9a, 11-16
Ps 27:7-9,13-14
Matthew 5:27-32

USCCB Podcast of the Readings:

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you, 
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
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.
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.

“It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
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.”

Good News Reflection: What needs to be cut off and thrown out?

Imagine this: A person who is steeped in sin turns to Jesus. Gradually, Jesus helps him get rid of all his major sins, except one. For whatever reason, the man is attached to this sin. Jesus gives him opportunity after opportunity to let go, but he doesn’t want to do the work that’s necessary for overcoming it.

So Jesus cuts off and tosses out whatever the man has been leaning on, making him fall. In desperation, the man looks for a way out. The only good view is up, and there Jesus waits. He grabs onto Jesus, ready for a new life. What had been a disaster becomes a great blessing.

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus challenges us to discover the parts of our lives that need to be cut off and tossed out. He points out that sin starts in the heart. For example, in the case of adultery, even if we only fantasize about having an affair, we’re sinning. Why? Because adulterous thoughts push away our concern and love for the spouse who’s now being abandoned, even if only for a few moments.

This is true also for those who are single, for their Spouse is God. Therefore living as if married without being married is adultery against God.

Jesus extends this teaching to any area of our lives where sin pushes love aside. Our eyes cause us to sin if we watch movies with lust-producing scenes, for example, because these images imbed themselves in our minds and affect our thinking. We must “tear out and throw away” whatever endangers purity and holy thoughts.

What about unloving behaviors that were taught to us in childhood, or bad habits or addictions or fears? Do we excuse them, or do we overcome them?

Jesus continues with an even stronger call to cut out what is unloving, again using adultery as an example. Since marriage is a commitment, and breaking any commitment is unloving, then divorce — from a valid marriage — is a sin. (Divorce is not always a sin. The Church’s annulment procedure is meant to be both a healing process and a good way to prove the invalidity of a marriage. But it’s not an escape hatch for valid marriages.) This makes more sense if we read the next verses, Matt. 5:33-37. Breaking an oath — including the marriage oath — is unloving.

Jesus is asking all of us: “What’s in your heart? What needs to get cut out to make more room for more of My love?”

For a Bible Study on the entire Sermon on the Mount,

Today’s Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ: Today I give up before You everything that drives me away from Your paths and chains me to evil and sin. Take control of my life. Purify me and give me the strength I need to follow You with strong decision and courage. Amen.

© 2018 by Terry A. Modica

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