February 12, 2017
by Joe Zaborowski
Creighton University's Purchasing Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 76

Sirach 15:15-20
Ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34
1 Corinthians 2:6-10
Matthew 5:17-37

Praying Ordinary Time

The scripture readings for today are bundled well as a package. Sirach and Matthew’s Gospel reading make great bookends, stressing the importance of the Commandments in Christian living. Many may look at these reading in a more legalistic way, and leave little room for the Spirit to work in our hearts. In I Corinthians, Paul reminds us that God’s revelation is “revealed to us through the Spirit.” This tempers the legalism some see in Matthew’s Gospel. For me, it is no accident that the placement of this discourse closely follows the Sermon on the Mount.

The basis for a good moral life, for me, does need structure and a set of directions. Following the moral code of the Old Testament, and the calling to a higher plan of actions as describe by Christ in Matthew’s Gospel, brings me closer to understanding and applying the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount in my life. I remember when my eldest daughter was learning to play the piano. She had to practice finger exercises, know the placement of her fingers on the keyboard, do scales, and learn to read musical notation, and above all, practice and more practice. Many a day it was a struggle for her (and us) to get through her practice time. As she improved, practicing was less of a struggle, and eventually playing became a joy for her. I could see it and feel it in her. Her attitude actually changed from one of struggle and fighting her lessons, to one of joy and contentment.

The commandments are the same for me in my spiritual growth. No one likes a mortal arbiter, myself included. As I slowly grew in my faith walk, following the commandments, for the love of God and not as a set of arbitrary rules, bore better fruit. As a result my life was more joyous and free during the times I embraced the guidelines I’ve been given. Being a human, failure is an inevitable outcome. The key is getting back up each time with the help of the Holy Spirit. When I’m free of anger, judgment, self- centeredness, covertness and the many other human shortcomings, I find myself better connected to the Beatitudes and embrace these as what many theologians call the pinnacle of Christian living. My prayer daily is always to implore God to send the Spirit to me in helping to maintain the bridge between the commandments and the Beatitudes.

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