“If you choose you can keep the commandments,” Sirach tells us. God “has set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand” (Sirach 15:15, 16). This is a great mystery: God does not control us so completely that we cannot choose our own path. We have certain boundaries, of course, but no one but we can choose our way within those boundaries.
In today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us of our freedom and our responsibility for our lives. He calls us to look beyond the words of the commandments, all the way to their meaning. Look beyond the adultery to the selfishness that poisons our love. Look beyond the murder to the anger that eats away at our compassion. Look beyond the perjured testimony to the lies and deception that drive our behavior.
Our vocation is to choose life for ourselves, and to choose a path through our part of the world that helps make life possible and more abundant for others as well.
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First Reading — God allows us to make choices, but we are not to choose injustice or sinfulness
Psalm — Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord! (Psalm 119).
Second Reading — God’s wisdom is mysterious and hidden (1 Corinthians 2:6-10).
Gospel — Jesus has come not to abolish but to fulfill the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17-37 [20-22a, 27-28, 33-34a, 37]).