Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


6th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
February 16th, 2014
Year A

You may find it interesting to know that I consider myself to be pro-choice. Now, before anyone passes out, lets ask the question: “what does it mean to be pro-choice?” In today’s society this phrase means only one thing. At the same time, this society holds up choices as the definition of freedom. If I do not have choices then I am not free. As if a buffet line of choices governs life. It is true, though, we make many choices in life. I can choose to wear black or not. I can choose to eat junk food or eat healthy. I can choose to go to the gym or sleep in late. I have the liberty to make these choices. Some choices are a bit more serious than others – career, family, religious vocation, etc. All of which, however, have a direct effect on our moral life, in whether we choose to follow the commandments and teachings of the Church or not. This is so because each of us, from the moment of conception, are endowed by God with free will.

This is the point that the author of the Book of Sirach is trying to make. The Law of God does not coerce human freedom because it does not restrain man’s ability to choose. The Law of God is meant to show man how to make the best choice. “Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.” Perhaps we could even say: “Before man are life and death, good and evil, heaven and hell, whichever he chooses shall be given him.”

This is perhaps why Jesus, when He addresses His disciples, makes it clear: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” He uses the phrase: “You have heard that it was said…” introducing a quote or an illusion to the law with an occasional mention of how it is interpreted or understood. He takes it a step further, though, with the phrase: “but I say to you…” is the mark of a solemn pronouncement that brings a deeper meaning to the law. In analyzing just these phrases, Jesus is making a statement – that He carries divine authority. Furthermore, as the Law was given to form the moral behavior of the people of Israel, Jesus now elevates the law that was written on stone to now be written in the heart. He is showing us the wisdom of the law – that it is God’s wisdom. He is calling for an interiorization of the law that touches one’s motives, thoughts and attitudes – and naturally, the choices we make. What is He saying? There is not a buffet of choices, there is only one choice. This choice, which a person makes in accord with free will, chooses to follow the commandments because he is able to perceive the wisdom.

This is a person who pays no attention to the “wisdom of the age” rather, penetrates the “mysterious, hidden” wisdom of God “predetermined before the ages.” St. Paul really helps us to understand what Jesus is getting at in the Gospel. God’s wisdom is His eternal plan for our salvation. It was an eternal secret that no one could fathom but has been graciously revealed to the Church. And since God’s wisdom is eternal, it surpasses the “wisdom of this age” and that of the “rulers of this age” because they are not eternal. God’s wisdom endures and is directed for our glory, namely, that we may be saved through the practice of our faith and our obedience to His commands.

Admittedly, it is not always easy to perceive this wisdom. Sometimes, the “wisdom of this age” sounds better. Yet, isn’t this precisely what happened to Adam and Eve? God gave them one commandment but the voice of the serpent sounded better, it sounded good. We are, by nature, inclined to what is good. And our choices are made because we think that this is the good, this is what is best for me. The problem is that the culture of today is teaching us to seek what feels good. It may have temporal benefits but essentially kills the soul and leads to spiritual death. Thus, we are faced with choices: life and death, good and evil. Jesus is teaching us to see the true good. By internalizing the law, we are then able to perceive, with the help of the Spirit, the wisdom that leads to life, the wisdom that chooses that which is right, true and good – because it is good, and in seeing the good we see God.

How does it make a person pro-choice? Because this is the person who sees that there really is only one choice and in exercising his freedom, He chooses it. What is that choice? The only one that matters: What if you were to wake up every morning and make this prayer: “Lord, I choose to love today.” This is essentially what Jesus asks of us – to choose to love. For in this choice, we accept what comes with love – self-sacrifice, self-giving, humility, obedience to the moral law as means of growing in love for God and neighbor. How many of us have seen the lives of others enhanced and made a little better because of love. How many of us have had our lives made better because of God’s love for us? This is what makes me pro-choice. In choosing to love, we choose life, we choose that which is right, true and good. This is advice I tell young people all the time – make choices that lead to God and not away from Him. May God always give us the necessary grace to be able to make the choices that are necessary for our salvation so that, as Sirach notes, it may be given to us.


















Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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