Bulletin: February 12, 2023
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our readings today together provide powerful insight into how to be faithful disciples. Sirach reminds us that, in the deepest places in ourselves, in our primary attitudes and tendencies in living, we face choices. We have real agency to embrace what is good, and resist what is destructive, for our own flourishing and for the common good. We are shaped, but we are not ultimately shackled, by social forces or by other persons. In Matthew’s Gospel, we read that God cares not only about our observing boundaries, but about these deep areas of ourselves and our basic choices in life. God knows our fears and wounds that influence our choices. God is actively providing wisdom, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians. God will help us sort out the bewildering decisions we often face. God is here, deep within, offering challenge, healing, and courage so we may choose to love.
BOTH PRESENT AND FUTURE
Matthew continues Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in today’s Gospel, which is Jesus’ extended teaching on the central theme of his ministry, the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew highlights Jesus as a teacher like Moses, and who is rooted in the law of Moses. Jesus interprets the law by intensifying its meaning, by going to the root values behind the specific teachings in the law. These include reconciliation with others; mutual care for all persons as sacred, especially women; and being trustworthy and honest.
The Kingdom of Heaven is described as both in the present and in the future. When these values are lived out in daily life within the community, the Kingdom becomes present there and demonstrable to others. Jesus also spoke about life in the future, when God fulfills the divine promises to establish fully justice and peace on earth. The reconciliation, care, and trust experienced now will reach their fullness in the promised Kingdom.
WITH EACH OTHER
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount today turns to the relationships within the community. Jesus understands the traditional teachings about relationships in light of the coming Kingdom. He describes a deep trust and accountability among members of the community. Not settling for meeting minimum requirements, he points his new community toward an intimate knowledge and caring for each other, so that all may flourish as individuals and as a whole.
Although he highlights the dignity of each individual person, Jesus also envisions a community life where there is both a responsibility for each other and an accountability to each other. Members are to attend to each other’s struggles and sorrows. Members become aware that their individual choices and lifestyle will be an example to others. We are to work out how to follow Jesus together in community, not only as individuals. We discern and live out our community’s vocation, not only our own. Our unity with God is also with each other.