What Do The Choices We Make Say About Us?
Monday of Week 15 in Ordinary Time - Cycle II
Is. 1:11-17 & Mt. 10:34-11:1
A bribe is some kind of payment given with a view to perverting the judgement or corrupting the conduct of a person in a position of power.
It is a selfish rather than a generous act. In contrast a gift is an expression of love with no strings attached and nothing expected in return.
The people to whom Isaiah preached looked upon God as someone with a lot of power Whom they could bribe. Despite their lack of genuine piety, they expected to win favours from God by bribing Him with meaningless prayers and sacrifices. You may wonder how people could have so deceived themselves.
The answer is that they allowed themselves to be influenced by the approach of their pagan neighbours to their gods. The pagans believed that with their various sacrifices they could placate their gods and make them do what they wanted. Isaiah was warning the people that they must be different from the pagans and their perverse view of religion.
God was displeased with the lsraelites because they were leading evil and unjust lives. Isaiah was telling them, 'First put your own life in order. Be just in your dealings with others. Be caring to the underdog, the orphan and the widow. Then come and offer your sacrifices and you and your sacrifices will be pleasing to God.'
Today we no longer need to offer animal sacrifices because we have the Mass - which unites us with the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary, the only one acceptable to the Father. At every Mass we offer ourselves with Jesus, not as a bribe to get what we want, but to show our love, affection and worship of the one, true God. This is all He wants from us. If we are trying to be unselfish, caring and forgiving towards each other, then the gift of ourselves will be pleasing to God.
Why does Jesus describe His mission and the coming of God's kingdom in terms of conflict, division and war? He came in peace to reconcile a broken and sinful humanity with an all-merciful and loving God. He also came to wage war on Satan, the enemy of God and humanity.
What does Satan seek? He wants to take as many people as possible into his kingdom, and is fiercely determined not to rest until he has won over the hearts, minds and souls of every living person. The choices we make and the actions we take reveal which kingdom we support and is it God or Satan we are choosing to follow.
What is our choice? To place any relationship above the one with God is to indulge in a form of idolatry. For this reason Jesus challenges His disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. Jesus insists that His disciples give Him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or kin. It is possible, sadly, that family or friends can become our enemies - if the wish to please them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do.
Jesus sets before His disciples the one goal in life that is worth any sacrifice and that goal is the will of God which leads to everlasting life, peace and joy with God. Does the love of Jesus Christ compel us to put God first in all we do?
Heavenly Father, set us ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit that we may love you in and above all things, and so receive the rewards you have promised us through Christ our Lord.