Tear Out – Throw Away – Cut Off

6.15.18  Fri. wk. 10 – Ordinary Time (II)

1st Book of Kings  19:  9a, 11 – 16

Gospel  of  Matthew  5:  27 – 32

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.”     The Gospel of the Lord.

Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                  Tear out – Throw Away – Cut Off

Today’s Gospel is a continuation of yesterday’s discourse by †Jesus.  He is calling His disciples in this discourse to go beyond the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees.  We talked about that yesterday; for this is the only way one can enter into the Kingdom of God.  †Jesus provided His disciples with a long list of teachings on the law, on anger, on oaths, on retaliation, love of enemies and more.  The “righteousness” of God is always founded on love, a relationship of love of God and love of neighbor.  Righteousness is not founded on power, control, or selfishness – which the righteousness of the Pharisees was founded upon.

Therefore, †Jesus instructs His disciples to set priorities in their lives; doing those things that lead us closer to God, and not set us apart from God.  †Jesus sets before them and us, the goal in life that is worth any sacrifice and that goal is: ‘conforming our will to God’s will’.  That’s the source of all joy, that’s the source of all holiness – ‘conforming my will to God’s will’.  We are to live as the Lord has called us to live, because this is the only way to insure eternal happiness.  To do this, †Jesus says, might mean to “tear out, throw away, and cut off”.  While we take these words of †Jesus – seriously – we do not take them – literally.  The image is like that of a surgeon – who removes cancerous cells – or a cancerous organ to save our life.  We must be willing to remove those things and those attitudes in our life that might lead us to spiritual death.  Sometimes these are hard things to do.  When †Jesus talks about removing body-parts, He meant – removing habitual sins that are barriers to our holiness and our growing union with God – is as hard as removing body-parts.

In today’s Gospel, †Jesus addresses: injustice and chastity.  Adultery and divorce unfortunately can be found within marriage covenants, at times.  Spouses can betray one another; they can fail in a variety of ways to sacrificially love one another.  And without making any judgments on individual circumstances, we can say this: we all stumble, we all fall, we all fail at times in our lives.  We fail to remain faithful to promises and to covenants that we make.  But this does not mean we stop trying.  We keep on trying because in those moments we must ask God for His grace to help us, because the Lord never gives up on us.  His grace is greater than any sin that we can commit.  Even if we fail in our commitments, God never fails in His love for us.  That’s why the Lord encourages us to keep striving to live the call to holiness.  “Righteousness” involves responding to every situation in life, in a way that fulfills God’s law of love.  If infidelity is a reality in marriage, then seek forgiveness and reconciliation with your spouse.  If divorce is a reality in your life – do not destroy one another and the family in the process by anger and hatred.  We are always called to choose life, to choose life in Christ.

When the scribes and Pharisees were unfaithful to God, condemning †Jesus to death, †Jesus asked the Father to forgive them with His dying breaths.  When we do the same, when we imitate †Jesus – our righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees and the worldly.  †Jesus calls us to chose life!  And when we do that – we will experience the enduring life of joy.

In his Apostolic Exhortation on The Call to Holiness in the Modern World Pope Francis writes: “Hard times may come when the cross casts its shadow, yet nothing can destroy the supernatural joy that adapts and changes – but always endures even as a flicker of life – born of our personal certainty that when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.  That joy brings deep security, serene hope, and a spiritual fulfillment that the world cannot understand or appreciate.” (Gaudium et Exsultate, 125)

So – remain steadfast, humble and simple.  Let the words of St. Paul in his Letter to the Philippians fill your heart:  “I have learned to be content with what I have”. (Phil.4:11)

     In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.