In today’s reading from Deuteronomy we are called to choose life by loving and obeying God. Much of today’s gospel reading echoes portions of the Ten Commandments. Jesus’ instructions to the crowd reveal a pattern of behavior that honors both God and the neighbor, resulting in life and health for the whole community. We too are invited to embrace these commandments, not out of fear of retribution, but because God has promised that to do so means life for us.
Readings and Psalm
Choose between life and death
Happy are they who follow the teaching of the Lord. (Ps. 119:1)
1 Corinthians 3:1-9
God gives the growth
The teaching of Christ: forgiveness
First Reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20
The Lord sets before the people of God a clear choice. Life and prosperity will come to the faithful; loss of the land will be the consequence of disobedience. Choosing life entails loving and holding fast to the Lord. Life in God’s presence presupposes the promise made to the ancestors. [Moses said to the people:] 15See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
First Reading (alternate): Sirach 15:15-20
literature has a high estimation of human possibilities. We are God’s
trusted creatures. Wisdom invites people to choose to keep God’s
commandments. Contrariwise, God does not command people to be wicked or
give them permission to sin.15If you choose, you can keep the commandments,
and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
16He has placed before you fire and water;
stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.
17Before each person are life and death,
and whichever one chooses will be given.
18For great is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power and sees everything;
19his eyes are on those who fear him,
and he knows every human action.
20He has not commanded anyone to be wicked,
and he has not given anyone permission to sin.
Psalm: Psalm 119:1-8
Happy are they who follow the teaching of the Lord. (Ps. 119:1)1Happy are they whose | way is blameless,
who follow the teaching | of the Lord!
2Happy are they who observe | your decrees
and seek you with | all their hearts,
3who never do | any wrong,
but always walk | in your ways.
4You laid down | your commandments,
that we should | fully keep them.
5Oh, that my ways were made | so direct
that I might | keep your statutes!
6Then I should not be | put to shame,
when I regard all | your commandments.
7I will thank you with | a true heart,
when I have learned your | righteous judgments.
8I will | keep your statutes;
do not utter- | ly forsake me.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9
in the church are not the ones who control ministry. Rather they are
coworkers who belong to God, the one who truly controls and continuously
empowers the ministry of the church.1Brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, 3for
you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and
quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according
to human inclinations? 4For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?
5What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. 9For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Gospel: Matthew 5:21-37
In the Sermon
on the Mount, Jesus exhorts his followers to embrace standards of
righteousness that exceed legal requirements and traditional
[Jesus said to the disciples:] 21“You
have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not
murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22But
I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will
be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will
be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable
to the hell of fire. 23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave
your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your
brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25Come
to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court
with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge
to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If 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 for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
31“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”