February 16, 2014 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sir 15: 15-20; Ps 119: 1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34; 1 Cor 2: 6-10; Mt 5: 17-37
“Eye has not seen… and ear has not heard… what God has prepared for those who love him.” Those words contain God’s promise to us regarding salvation. This particular piece of Holy Scripture is dear to the hearts of many faith-filled Catholics. However, it is more than a glowing prediction of eternity for those who follow the Lord and work to fulfill His call to holiness. There may not be a more adept statement to give us hope — not just hope in the future, but hope in the present — right now.
In some ways our readings for this Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time appear on the surface to be somewhat legalistic. Nevertheless, when we look beyond those surface meanings, we find a depth of stewardship thought worth reviewing and contemplating.
The astute Book of Sirach is filled with so much wisdom and philosophy that it becomes difficult for us to absorb it completely. Evidently written in the Second Century before Christ the Book provides insights into much of the acumen laid out in the Gospels. There are two noteworthy stewardship thoughts presented in today’s first reading. The opening sentence points out that we have free will in relation to stewardship and everything else in our lives. God provides guidance, but it is we who must choose to follow that counseling. Furthermore, according to Sirach, “If you trust in God, you will be saved.” Trust in the Lord is at the crux of lives of stewardship. When we give of ourselves, and everything we have, we trust that God will take care of us.
A common theme of St. Paul is that he knows he has not been gifted with great scholarly wisdom, but he is confident of the fact that Christ saved him and us if we follow the Lord’s advice and place our trust in His sacrifice and His redemption of us. This in effect is how he approaches the Corinthians in the second reading. Paul differentiates between the “wisdom of the world” and the “wisdom of God.” The secular worldly perspective which seems to go against lives of stewardship does not always reflect the “wisdom of God.” As Catholics and good stewards we are called to a higher life style, one which in Paul’s words, “We speak a wisdom to those who are mature, not a wisdom of this age.” Those insightful words are as applicable today as they were for the Corinthians in that time. Our Christian wisdom has to see beyond the superficial nature of much of what we encounter in the world, into a deeper understanding of what is important, the “depths of God” as indicated by St. Paul.
Stripping away the obvious stated by Jesus in today’s Gospel, we must see deeper into what He is teaching us. Like the reading from Sirach, free will is brought into play. Like the reading from First Corinthians, the Lord calls us to a deeper wisdom, a deeper understanding. We are called to righteousness. According to dictionaries, righteousness is living a moral or right life in the eyes of God. The point that Jesus is making to us is that we cannot achieve this level of holiness without God’s help. Thus, as stewards, we must with God’s help make the right decisions and live the right way so that it is the wisdom of God which saves us. We cannot do it without Him.