Scripture Readings, Feb. 12, 2023

Feb. 12, 2023

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 15:15-20

1 Corinthians 2:6-10

Matthew 5:17-37

Life is not simple. It is not always what it seems. Ben Sira writes how God sets before us fire and water for us to stretch forth our hand, and chose one or the other. Yet sometimes fire flows like water as lava spilling out from the earth and rivering down a mountainside; and sometimes water is on fire as it reflects the flaming, setting sun. Life is not always what it seems.

There is a wisdom in the Word of God, as the readings of this weekend attest, but Paul also makes the point that God’s wisdom is mysterious and hidden, not always easy to come upon — as in we find life by losing it, and less is more, and love conquers all. Indeed, life is not always what it seems. The wisdom of God appears to make itself known bit by bit as we make our way on this journey called life. It is a wisdom we come to slowly.

I was in the middle of a conversation when a friend commented how she thought the new word for this decade is spectrum. It seems that everything is on a spectrum, is what she said. There are no smart people and no dullards — only differing intelligences on a spectrum and everyone scattered in between. There are not black folk and white folk — just folk of every shade and in between. There are not gay people and straight people — rather a spectrum of sexuality toward one end or the other and sometimes in between. So also, coming to wisdom — not wise and unwise but all of us on a spectrum in between and on the way.

St. Paul again writes, “We speak of a wisdom to those who are mature.” Maturity, too, is a spectrum. Who is to say what it means to be mature? Does anyone ever arrive? Are we not all learners trying to uncover what it is God wants of us as we try to negotiate the ups and downs of this reality we call life? The wonder of it all is that the process of becoming mature allows for mistakes, for rerouting ourselves; in short, for learning what it means to be a mature person of faith.

On the one hand, the world needs someone to hold up the ideals of faith, to name what is true and that for which we all strive. In part, that is the task of faith communities. It is those ideals that Matthew names in the Gospel we hear this weekend, and not only the ideals but also the shades of living them out. Do not kill, he reminds us, but also be at peace with one another and mend your bridges. Do not commit adultery, he reminds us, but also mind how you look at one another and treat one another and what you seek from one another. Do not take a false oath, he reminds us, but also let your yes mean yes and your no mean no without shading it and twisting it and turning it inside out. The world does need those who call us to remember the ideals and wisdom of Jesus.

On the other hand, none of us have fully arrived, none of us is so fully mature that we live out that wisdom so perfectly. We are all trying to discover the wisdom of God in the circumstances of the lives we lead, each of us a complexity of push and pull, sin and grace, dreams and disappointments, hopes and lost paths. We need to be patient with one another and with ourselves as God is with us. That too is the role of the faith community.

How to make marriage work is all too often a mixture of rising and falling, of steps forward and backward, of success for many but also of failure for others. No one moves through a divorce without great pain, trying to be the best they can be. For them, that too is part of the journey into discovering the wisdom of God in their life. As communities of faith, we need to be patient with one another and walk together.

Many in our society search to understand their experience of sexuality. Opinions abound about homosexuality, gay marriage and transgenderism. For many individuals and families, there is confusion and pain and struggle, but also for many an eventual coming to peace and acceptance. Discerning the wisdom of God and the coming to mature peace is also a journey each individual must make in faith and trust. As communities of faith, we need to walk with one another and love the image of God in each.

We live in a time when we no longer are sure when yes means yes and no means no. All too often, our uncertainty divides us from one another, at times amid great violence. How do we journey into truth we have not yet fully discovered? We continue to learn how to walk together.

Life is not simple. It is not always what it seems. All of us journey into life with the Lord Jesus, trying to love one another as best we can.


What bit of God’s wisdom have you only recently come to discover?

When have you strayed and come to greater wisdom?