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A Line in the Sand

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Sirach 15:15-20

If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;
if you trust in God, you too shall live;
he has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Immense is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power, and all-seeing.
The eyes of God are on those who fear him;
he understands man’s every deed.
No one does he command to act unjustly,
to none does he give license to sin.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34

R. (1b) Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
who seek him with all their heart.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
You have commanded that your precepts
be diligently kept.
Oh, that I might be firm in the ways
of keeping your statutes!
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Be good to your servant, that I may live
and keep your words.
Open my eyes, that I may consider
the wonders of your law.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Instruct me, O LORD, in the way of your statutes,
that I may exactly observe them.
Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
and keep it with all my heart.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:6-10

Brothers and sisters:
We speak a wisdom to those who are mature,
not a wisdom of this age,
nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.
Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
and which none of the rulers of this age knew;
for, if they had known it,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him,
this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

Gospel: Matthew 5:17-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment;
and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin;
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’
will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

“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.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.
But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”

NAB

When I was looking into converting to Catholicism there were a lot of hurdles to cross. I had grown up in a number of Protestant denominations; church “shopping” was fairly common as we hopped across denominational lines to find a good pastor, or an engaging children’s ministry, a more conservative approach or a more liberal approach depending on the year or season of life my family was in. This is the norm of many Protestant Christians and when I married my husband I assumed it would be more of the same, that we would just shop around until we found the right fit for us; perhaps a little combination of both our backgrounds all wrapped up in a liturgically conservative, but socially “progressive” package.

It came as a shock to me when my husband, as flexible and kind as anyone could be, resolutely told me that I was welcome to find what I needed, but he would always and only ever be a Catholic. This simple, straightforward, yet kind announcement shook me. Ben wasn’t exactly practicing at the time, though it was already clear he knew his apologetics so here he was with a firm line drawn in the sand.

The idea of something you believed in so completely that nothing could change you was intensely radical to me. I had never been faced with someone so firm in their beliefs and that shook me to the core—and yet, here it is in the Bible in each of today’s readings. Time and time again we’re told good is good is good and bad is bad is bad and even Jesus Himself comes out to say this to remind us that when we say “Yes” it is to mean “Yes” in no uncertain terms. He does not say “Say Yes, but only when it feels right” or “Say Yes, but not if makes you feel uncomfortable” or “Say Yes, unless you meet these qualifications.” God shows us time and time again that Truth is not relative and Truth is not in the eye of the beholder. Truth is simply, entirely and radically just true.

Today I hope you find the courage to draw your line in the sand on whichever topics you’re feeling firm on. I hope you find courage in God to announce to those you love “this is Truth and I will never be anything but this” because there are people all around you waiting to hear such an amazing declaration and it might just change their lives.

Where is your line? Pray today to know more deeply where you need to draw it in your life.

Molly Walter is a Catholic convert, wife and mother to one crazy five year old, a new baby girl and four saints in heaven. She uses her degree in Theatre more as mother than she did while in the business. She enjoys reading, knitting, and rescuing third class relics from Goodwill. Find out more about her here

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