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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Feb. 16, 2014

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

February 16, Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle A. Readings:

1) Sirach 15:15-20

Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5,17-18, 33-34

2) 1 Corinthians 2:6-10

Gospel: Matthew 5:17-37

This week's admonition from the wisdom of Sirach is a stiff challenge: "Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him."

It's an unblinking statement of personal responsibility: You decide and you live with it.

For someone who can't even choose whether to order the turkey melt or the barbecue burger in less than three visits by the waiter, this is a jarring message.

For a long time, I believed that my reluctance to make decisions was simply part of my nature and I was fine with "letting" others make choices for me.

My husband would inquire, "Do you want to go to the ball game, or would you rather stay home and watch a movie?" My response: "I don't care. Whatever you want to do." Or he'd ask: "Do you think we should go ahead and take this trip, or save the money so we can replace our old car?" My response (I'm not making this up): "I'm OK either way. You decide."

It eventually dawned on me that my reluctance to make decisions was a bad habit, at best. More accurately, it was dishonest. Given choices, I knew I had a preference. But subconsciously, I didn't want to take responsibility for possible negative consequences.

What if we took the trip and then our car promptly died and we had to squeeze payments out of our budget for the next three years? If my husband was the one who made the decision, I could blame him for the bad result.

Realizing what I'd been doing (and how annoying it must have been), I knew I had to change. I've come to understand that not deciding is a poor choice.

In the Gospel, Jesus explains that choosing to keep the commandments is more than simply following the rules. It's the basis for life in God's kingdom where we constantly must make decisions to treat others with compassion and respect.

In matters of salvation, not to choose is not an option. Each of us must decide. Sirach even reveals the consequences: "If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you."


When faced with the choice, what tempts you not to follow God's commandments? Which of the commandments are most difficult for you to keep? Why?


"No one does he command to act unjustly." -- Sirach 15:20


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