Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel
February 11, 2023 // Perspective

Jesus is Always the Answer to Our Problems

Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 5:17-37

The Book of Sirach, the source of this weekend’s first reading, is part of a collection of biblical writings that in their very origin teach an important lesson.

As various political, economic, and individual fortunes changed, collapsed, and reversed among God’s people in the decades after the Babylonian Captivity, and as new alien empires seized the Holy Land, Jews emigrated from the homeland of their ancestors to other places.

Understandably, many went to places where opportunities were more plentiful.

While certainly some of these emigrants not only survived, but possibly did well in their new surroundings, one thing was lacking. They were not living in a society in which all acknowledged the God of Israel. In fact, their adopted culture well could be hostile to the ancient Hebrew tradition.

So, to record their ancient religious beliefs, and very importantly to pass these beliefs along to oncoming generations, Jewish scholars composed books such as Sirach.

The essential point in Sirach was that human reason and honoring God are not ideas at odds with each other. Obeying God, logic can prove, is the way to order, peace, justice, and reward in human life.

St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians is the source of the second reading. Paul, who would have been no stranger to this notion of a compatibility between divine revelation and human wisdom, as he was so well trained in Judaism but also exposed to Greek philosophy, added a new dimension to the story. Revelation is of a reality that human knowledge often cannot comprehend.

He refers to “hidden wisdom” and “mystery.” We as humans simply cannot understand all. In great love, God therefore has revealed to us what otherwise we would never know.

The Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. The Lord expounds on the meaning of several of these rules for life given by God to Moses on Sinai.

This process reveals two important factors. The first is that God’s law is permanent and unchanging. This is logical. It touches very basic instincts and conditions among humans, all attached deeply and intrinsically to human nature itself, and as such it is not open to qualifications or to changes that humans might wish to make.

Secondly, here the Lord speaks with authority. He defines and explains the law of Moses. Jews did not regard the law of Moses as merely a set of principles personally composed by Moses. Rather, Moses was the medium through which God revealed the divine law to humanity. God is the author of the divine law. He is the author of the Commandments. He is the lawgiver.

By defining and making more precise this law, the Lord acts as God. It is an important revelation of the identity of Jesus.


The war in Ukraine continues to work its deadly will. Debates in our government remind us that people are still hungry and hopeless. Is there no relief? No answer?

Basically, the problem is bad human decision, resulting from an absence of love and a sense of justice.

The liturgies always remind us that the answer to problems is in Jesus. He called humanity to hear and to acknowledge God.

This is the Church’s call today, echoing the call of Christ.

At Christmas, the Epiphany, and at the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, the Church celebrated the events of salvation achieved for us by Christ, by reminding us, insisting, that Christ is available to us.

Before too long, the Church will lead us into Lent, when we will decide what our choice shall be, to follow the Lord, or to make decisions devoid of right and of love. It is this simple.

Follow the Lord. The world can be better.

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