Toward a Synthesis - Part 2

(Homily for Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A)

Message: What matters is with how much love we do good deeds - so strive to obey the whole moral law. The synthesis is more than the moral law, but it cannot be less.

Someone asked Mother Teresa, "What will we be judged on?" She responded, "I believe that when we die and the time comes for us to be judged, God will not ask how many good things we did in our lives, but only with how much love we did them."

Blessed Mother Teresa's reflection helps us move toward a synthesis. As we learned last Sunday, "Where you synthesis is, there lies your heart." Pope Francis writes about the importance of preaching not "detached ideas" but a synthesis. We saw that for our culture, the synthesis comes down to this: Do good deeds and treat the poor kindly. When a person asks a simple question, however, it becomes apparent that doing good deeds cannot summarize the entire Gospel. The question is: Why? Why do good deeds? Why care for the poor? It is not because of some innate generosity, but because of the recognition of one's own radical poverty. God rescues us from the misery of Egypt. That rescue becomes total in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. Ultimately we can only love others because God loves us.

So as Mother Teresa observes, what matters are not the deeds, but the love with which one does them. We can see that in today's Gospel. Our care for the underserved must be a part of observing the entire moral law. Jesus mentions three main precepts: You shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not lie (swear false oaths). Violations of those precepts fall hardest on the poor. They are more likely to be victims of violence and a disproportionate number of abortions take place in our poorer communities. Adultery and subsequent family break-up causes misery on all levels of society, but once again disproportionately among the poor. Lack of marital commitment in turn creates a cycle of poverty. And of course false oaths (lies) impoverish society, while the ability to make and fulfill contracts lifts up a society. In the thirty years I have been involved with Peruvian society, I have seen great strides in that area, while in the U.S. it seems more common to have breakdown of trust - people not taking seriously their promises and contracts.

In drawing out the implications of these three precepts, Jesus is teaching us that doing good deeds with love inolves a commitment to the whole moral law: controlling one's anger, looking at each woman as a sister or daughter and fulfilling one's promises - let your yes be yes and your no be no.

We are moving toward a synthesis. What matters is with how much love we do good deeds - so strive to obey the whole moral law. The synthesis is more than the moral law, but it cannot be less. As Jesus says, "I have not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it." And as we prayed in the Psalm, "Oh, that I might be firm in the ways of keeping your statutes...Give me discernment that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart." Amen.


Spanish Version

From Archives (Sixth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):

2017: Hidden Wisdom Week 3- About Adultery, Murder & Perjury
2014: Toward a Synthesis - Part 2
2011: But I Say to You
1999: Not Abolish, but Complete

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