Today's readings are on using our free will to follow God's law. The first reading reminds us that we have a choice. We can choose to keep the commandments or reject them. God presents to us "fire and water," "life and death," "good and evil." He lets us choose which one we want. Whatever our choice is, that is what we will receive. Atheists often ask, "If God is good, why is there evil?" God is definitely good (Psalm 136:1). He is absolute and immutable (Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Psalm 102:26-27). Evil is the absence of good. It "exists" to us because we choose it to exist via our actions, or lack of them. Evil in the world has no bearing on God's existence or attributes. Again, we choose. We choose to defend human life or let a culture or death take over our laws and culture. We choose to defend the sanctity of marriage or let relativism take over and distort it. The evils in this world are on us, not God. We cannot blame Him. Pope St. Pius V said, “All the evil in the world is due to lukewarm Catholics.” Jesus Himself is not very fond of lukewarm Catholics. He "spits them out" (Revelation 3:15-17). God expects us to do the right thing. He does not order anyone to sin or act unjustly, we are told in the reading. I find it odd when some people living in sin say it is "God's will." No, it is not! I have heard people say having an abortion is a just and moral act or that being actively gay is a "blessing." These are lies of Satan, the father of lies who uses sophism to deceive man (John 8:44).
We must follow God's law, as the responsorial Psalm describes. If we do so, we will be blessed. We will be blameless before others. Our free will must not be abused. We must do what ought to be done, not what we want to do. Human beings are fragile (Matthew 26:41). We need God to help us with discernment and how to follow His statutes. Wisdom from God is necessary. This wisdom is mature and not the immature wisdom of the world. God's wisdom is above the learned; above science, philosophy and all man's knowledge (1 Corinthians 1:25). It is mysterious and hidden, yet near and close to those who humbly ask for it. If we truly understood God's wisdom, we would rush to follow each Commandment. The rulers during the time of Christ would not have crucified Him. However, we see things through a veil (Hebrews 6:19). We rely on faith to help us see what is beyond the senses. This Holy Spirit is our guide. The Spirit of God who is God and knows God completely. No eye or ear has perceived what God has prepared for those of us who follow Him sincerely.
In the Gospel, Jesus repeats the importance of following God's law. He reminds the people that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. He does this because He is God directly communicating to man. God's law trumps man's law. Jesus reminds us of this by recalling the law Moses made regarding divorce. Moses allowed it, but God never ordained it. This is why Jesus says that anyone even looks at another with lust has committed adultery. We must also be truthful and sincere. Our "yes" must be "yes" and our "no" must be "no." There is no in between. This is true when we decide to follow Jesus. We must say "yes" and mean it. We must not put Jesus on hold or second guess Him. Let us commit ourselves to the Lord by following His Commandments. Let us use our free will to do good and battle the evil in this world that derives from the spirtual forces behind the scenes who influence our choices. May Jesus Christ be praised!
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Here are some writings from holy writers:
But the "one dot" [smallest letter] is not only the iota of the Greeks but also that which among the Hebrews is called the yod. And the "one iota" or "one dot" can symbolically be said to be Jesus, since the beginning of his name is written not only by Greeks with an iota but also by Hebrews with a yod. So Jesus will be the one dot, the Word of God in the law which does not pass from the law until all is accomplished.
But the iota might also be (as he himself says) the Ten Commandments of the law, for everything else passes away, but these do not pass away. But neither does Jesus pass away; if he "falls to the ground" he does so willingly, in order to bear much fruit. Again, the "one iota" or "one dot" has mastery over things both in heaven and on earth.
(185 - 254)
Source: "Fragment 99," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1–13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 97.
He did not say, "If you have anything against your brother" but "If your brother has anything against you," so that a greater need for reconciliation is imposed on you. As long as we are unable to make peace with our brother, I do not know whether we may offer our gifts to God.
— St. Jerome
(347 - 320)
Source: "Commentary on Matthew, 1.5.23," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1–13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 104.
As the degree of innocence increases, faith becomes more advanced. For we are advised to be free not only from our own particular faults but also from those things that affect us outwardly. For is it not because of sin that the bodily members were condemned in the first place?
The right eye is no less sinister than the left. It is pointless to chastise a foot that is unaware of lust and thus involves no grounds for punishment. But our members indeed do differ from each other while we are all one body.
We are here being advised to pluck out inordinate loves or friendships if they are the occasion that leads us further into wrongdoing. We would do well to not even have the benefit of a member, like an eye or a foot, if it furnishes the avenue by which one is drawn by excessive affections into a partnership with hell. Even the cutting away of a member might be beneficial if the heart (figuratively speaking) were also able to be cut away. But if the impulse of the heart is left unchanged, the cutting away of a member would be pointless.
— St. Hilary of Poitiers
(315 - 367)
Source: "On Matthew 4.10," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1–13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 92.