“..if you wish, you can keep the commandments; to behave faithfully is within your power” ..the second greatest gift God has given us, after the gift of life, is free will.. ..to choose, wisely or foolishly.. it is too easy to scorn President Trump or Prime Minister Boris Johnson, or the Prison Service for their early release of terrorists, & keep the focus of attention, irresponsibility & blame on them, whilst we hide behind a façade of dutiful citizenship & faithful Catholicism.. “if only you knew”.. choose “if you wish” choose life..choose truth..
“..he has set fire & water before you; put out your hand to whichever you prefer..” ..choose.. ; Lord have mercy “..man has life & death before him; whichever he/she likes better will be given them..” ..choose.. ; Christ have mercy “..the wisdom of the Lord is almighty & all seeing..” ..& he chose you, & not in spite of but because of our foolishness, he still & always chooses us.. ; Lord have mercy
May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..a classic Matthean gospel full of his favourite soundbites; writing as a Jew for Jews, it is an insiders charter; Matthew’s Jesus isn’t seeking converts from out there “off the street unbelievers” & lets be truthful neither are we..he is trying to engage with & convert those loyal Jews who keep to the letter of the Law, its duties & prescriptions, religiously, but who tragically have never been inspired passionately enough to go the extra half mile & discover the view/practice/enjoyment of it & for a lifetime..like chosen people crossing the desert fleeing the Egyptians, they’d been kept alive, fed manna, unleavened bread, ageless tasteless, no urgency to the eating of it & no sell by date, pottering along..& they thought in Judaism, & then by adoption in Catholicism, that this was as good as it was likely to get; they had been taught to accept it unquestioningly; to get, where a minor infringement practised & taught to others, would contract in you, rather like a cold/flu virus, the stigma of sinfulness..”sin-fulness”..on earth & the dunces cap in heaven; whereas they’d been led to believe the goody two shoes who kept the rules religiously scrupulously would get the best seat in the kingdom alongside Jesus..remember mother of James & John who approached Jesus for a favour?..could my sons sit one at your left one on your right in the kingdom?..& a still timid Jesus opts out..instead of a truthful “no!” he says they are not his to grant..safety first Judaism/Catholicism..choose..”choose life”..this was Bishop John Crowley’s motto he chose when he became our Bishop..& his choice of a way of life was the way of humility, to keep close to the dunce & the failure..his fellow disciples, real flawed & receptive enough to go the extra half mile without a calibrated mileometer to ensure it is just far enough, bereft of a satnav which then allows Jesus to guide, to lead us forward gently to our destination..or is it “his” destination?..or ours or even better “ours” [ his & mine ] our destination..notice Matthew’s Jesus doesn’t write off the dutiful & compliant, the scribes & Pharisees then & our Catholicism’s equivalent now..he asks us to use them as template, to learn from all they do & do very well..& then to crack on beyond them into virgin territory; when they stop at the terminus before going back to start again, each stage of their weekly journey meticulously on time, safe & predictable; he challenges us to go further, deeper, to go off route/ off piste, to break new ground & to heal broken hearts; he goes back to root of murder, grievous bodily harm & grievous spiritual harm, to its seed called anger; the small internal sin within your mind, annoyance at what someone said or didn’t say..did or didn’t do, & you chose /your choice to feed fuel that tiny moment, when you could have silenced it, ignored it, strangled it, prayed over it & thereby dissolved it..however, you choose to give it credence, & whilst some blame the devil “its never my fault”, others admit to the truth & to its being my misuse of gift of free will..seeds of annoyance & insult “fool/renegade”..& Matthew’s Jesus challenges/expects authenticity truthfulness if you come here to fulfil your religious observance..& to remember “that if your brother/sister has something against you” re-member, reconnect with that which put your divine relationship with Jesus in jeopardy..& when it comes to mind, go home, be reconciled with the broken hearted [or hard hearted ] one..& then come back for the real deal..if each of us here now was to take that literally/ scrupulously, how many of us would be left to continue this Mass?..how many would you think? your smile tells its own story, as if we could ever hide from truth of question..you would be a priest short at least..go & be reconciled..settle it same day..today.. extraordinary how 70yrs later a minor seed of annoyance could fester on & on, & result in total breakdown in relationship..it couldn’t happen in my family could it?..could it? has it?..so to adultery/divorce/& untruths “to tell the truth the whole truth & nothing but the truth” whilst the law of the land throws the book at us for perjury, what does the Good Lord resort to in face of our infidelities? what do you think?..he waits lovingly for as long as it takes for you to choose what to do..for you to decide prodigal son/daughter to come home..a dunce a failure, ashamed..& giving the all forgiving father the treat of a lifetime.. ..& some counsel on a way forward; please never hesitate to bring the smallest of faults to Confession/ the Sacrament of Reconciliation; remember it, speak it & allow Holy Spirit through priest to give you a simple straightforward piece of advice to try..& opportunity to choose to come back again in 2/3wks time if situation needs tweaking..the offer is here Sat 11am to 12noon, or anywhere at anytime on request..if you wish; the choice is yours.. “choose life”..can we do it? you & your beloved Lord in relationship partnership in parity of esteem; “can we do it?” he asks gently of you “yes we can!” ..go home & forgive those with whom real words & truth were lost by design or default years ago; go home & be reconciled..Mother Teresa’s secret for world peace which could be seeded from this little parish this weekend if you choose to believe in it & in yourself.. world leaders asked this frail elderly nun if she could offer wise counsel to them as they struggle to make world peace; she smiled & said simply “go home & love your family”.. ..whatever the reason for you being here tonight/this morning, I am deeply grateful you chose to come here..& for those of you who, for whatever reason choose to go elsewhere, regularly in term-time or now & again, in truth you are missed, deeply & hurtfully, as your choice takes you away from us.. [ 6thSunYrA; Mt5;17-37]