Fr. John Hanic
Homily for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary time.
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sirach 15:15-20; 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; Matthew 5:17-37
Saint John Baptist de la Salle/Saint Stephen February 12, 2023
Here is a question I would like to ask; no, wait a minute; I already know the answer. So, rather than asking, "Have you ever walked into a room only to ask yourself what you went in there for?" I will ask, "Do you find this happening more frequently as you age?" I know I do, and it seems that it has been happening to me more often than I like. So, I asked doctor Chichon about this, and he said: "These kinds of slips are normal as we age and are not necessarily about some serious illness. Every decade after our fortieth birthday, our brains spend more time thinking about what we already know rather than taking in information from what's going on around us. This is why we find ourselves standing in front of an open closet door with no memory of what we went there for. That made sense to me, and I only hope I can remember what he said. Anyone who has raised children knows that the smallest disruption can distract them. That is because their brains are always searching for new information, but as we age, we become more easily lost in our own thoughts. Here is another example of that, one that is directly related to today's Scripture. We know that habits and repeated activities help us live a peaceful life. Our brain rewrites itself in order to perform expected tasks more easily. This explains why "practice makes perfect" when it comes to piano playing and why habits, such as late-night snacking, are so hard to break. Repeated behaviors reinforce themselves, while new ones are harder to adopt. Therefore, we need to be careful in forming any habit, good ones or sinful ones. If you have memorized the older form of the Act of Contrition, you remember what it says: "I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasion of sin." The only way to stop a bad moral habit is to take away what started it. The Prophet Sirach told us: "Placed before us are life and death, good and evil; whichever you choose will be given to you."
The problem, of course, is that we seldom choose once and for all. We too often fail to see that even our small choices have ways of reinforcing themselves. One might say that we are wired to set ourselves in stone. Therefore, we need to question what appears to be nothing more than a passing impulse. Jesus tells us that when we allow anger to enter into our minds, it will take us into places where we do not, at least initially, want to go. Our sins are like that; they begin as a small flicker in our minds, which we choose to indulge. But let us not close today's Gospel without thinking about its Good News. Good habits and good behaviors also reinforce themselves. When you place a few small sticks on a fire, it will continue to grow. It all begins with a new spark, a spark which we call Grace. As Saint Paul said, "What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed through the Spirit. For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God."