Honoring your yesses

Today’s Gospel reading is for those who are quick to make promises, but often fail to honor them:

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.’

 “But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for   it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for i is the city of the great King.

“Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. Let your ‘Yes’ mean  ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.” — Matthew 5:33-37

Ever since I read these verses, I became more prudent about saying yes and making commitments. Sure, I still fail from time to time, but I seldom say yes without really meaning it. 

Many times, being committed also means saying no so that you can honor the yesses that you have given. 


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Good versus best

Sin is not always about choosing what is evil over what is good. Most of the time, it is about choosing what we think is good for us over what God thinks is best for us.

At the beginning of mankind, when Eve ate of the tree that God forbidden her and Adam to eat, it was not just about disobeying God. It was about choosing what she thought was good for her over God’s best for her:

“The snake said to the woman: ‘God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.’
“The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it.” — Genesis 3:4-6

God’s original design for man was eternity with Him. That was His best. Yet, Adam and Eve chose what they thought was good for them and lost God’s best:

“Then the LORD God said: See! The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil! Now, what if he also reaches out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life, and eats of it and lives forever?” — Genesis 3:22

When we choose what we think is good for us over God’s best for us, more often than not, there will be consequences. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, death entered the world.

Yet, if you have chosen what you think was good for you over God’s best for you, don’t lose hope.

When we begin to choose His best, it can bless our lives immensely it overflows to others. It can even take away the consequences of our past mistakes.

During His life here on Earth, Jesus could have chosen the easy way out. Possessing a human will, Jesus could have given up and walked away from His mission. He could have chosen what He thought was good for Him. Yet, He chose what was best for Him: to die on the cross for us.

By choosing what was God’s best for Him, He took away the consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve, especially death. Jesus also did not just attain eternal life for Himself, but also for us who believe in Him with all of ourselves — mind, body, and spirit.

Finally, choosing what is God’s best is not always easy. Many times, it requires that we let go of what we think we want now, of what we think is good for us to make space for His best.

Sometimes, we may even have to die to ourselves to choose His best for us.

“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.” — Matthew 5:29

Is there an important decision you need to make today? Don’t just think about what you want. Discern what God wants. Choose what He thinks is best for you. Even if it will not be easy.


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The best altar sacrifice

… is our humility to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness — from the Father and to our neighbors — is one of the key messages of the Gospel:

“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” — Matthew 5:23-24

Is there someone in your life you still haven’t forgiven? Is there someone whom you have hurt and from whom you need to ask forgiveness?

Take the first step to reconciliation. Be the first to be vulnerable if you have to.

The mass comes alive when we are reconciled with the people who have hurt us and the people whom we have hurt. For as God has forgiven us, we must also forgive those who have done us wrong.

Who do you need to forgive? From whom do you need to ask for forgiveness?


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Minimum requirements

On the law and the commandments:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” — Matthew 5:17-18

Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets. He revealed its true essence, which is love. He perfected it. But He never abolished it.

We cannot be called true believers of Jesus without obeying the commandments. Our obedience perfects our faith and our love for Him.

Sure, the law may be the minimum requirements of living holy lives. But, they are still requirements we have to adhere to.

Is there a commandment you have a hard time obeying?

 

P.S. On the flip side, we cannot fully obey the law without love. Love perfects obedience. Love is the foundation of obedience.


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