8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Two weeks ago we looked at that simple summary of the law given by Jesus, the law giver who is God:
- don't be angry or insulting, respect others, live in peace.
- don't be ruled by your passions, respect for others includes respect for marriage and respect for yourself, modesty, purity, chastity.
- marriage is for life - it is God's law, divorce and remarriage or living together is wrong.
- speak the truth.
Last week we reflected on the need to train our will so that we can freely choose the difficult path of love, above all love of God, which involves keeping his law and which leads to happiness.
This week Our Lord emphasises the importance of the law and of keeping it.
Three things one often hears said, usually by those who don't keep God's law. God loves us he will never deny us heaven. You can always go to confession just before you die. I may do something wrong but I live a good life - that's what matters. Each of these statements minimises the need to keep God's law and flies in the face of common sense.
The last first. "I live a good life - that's what matters". No it isn't. Knowing, loving and serving God is what matters. 'A good life' can mean anything - depending on who says it. Knowing, loving and serving God means following Jesus and how to do that is revealed in scriptures, the tradition of the Church and the teaching of the Church. Do this and you live a good life. But just living a good life may not be following Jesus.
What about "well you can go to confession just before you die". In theory you can. But, and I am not asking for a show of hands, how long has it been since each of us went to confession? A year? Two years? Can't remember? Why haven't you been? Not I presume because you are sinless. Maybe you have lost the habit? Maybe you don't believe in confession? Maybe you are embarrassed, lazy, too busy? What makes people think that will change? As you live - so you die. Get to confession as soon as possible.
Finally "God loves us he lets us all into heaven in the end" Really? Hitler, drug dealers, the evil child molester. Is God so unjust that he makes no distinction between those who love and those who hate? God's love for us includes complete respect for our free will for the choices we make. This is why it is so important. You cannot serve two masters. With God's help we try to know him, love him and serve him in this world. To do that we follow Jesus who is God and try to keep the law he gives us out of love or we don't. To help us we use the Sacraments especially when we fail confession, or we don't. It's our choice.
If we choose to know, love and serve something other than God, for example food, money, clothes, add you own thing, then we can't expect eternal happiness with God. We must choose what we love and serve now, today. Tomorrow can look after itself. Don't say tomorrow I keep the law, tomorrow I go to confession, tomorrow God will let me into heaven. Tomorrow never comes. It is now, today, that we are called, to choose, to walk, to live, the path to happiness which is to know love and serve God.