(Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time).
Sunday, February 12, 2017.
Because you are the image of God, you must live in accordance with the goodness of your heart, in accordance with the goodness that is innate in you, a goodness that is free from any external command. For God himself is by his own volition, all goodness, and only goodness does come out of him.
Along with God’s goodness, you are also given “free choice” (Sirach 15:14) so you may be loyal to God’s will by choosing to keep his commandments without any coercion, by choosing to seek the well-being of all humankind, and by choosing to live in unity, just as God lives. God’s law does not coerce your will. You remain free to act according to your own volition: “Before man are life and death, whichever he chooses shall be given him” (Sirach 15:17). “No man does [God] command to sin, to none does he give strength for lies” (Sirach 15:20).
However, men chose their own self-serving interests, creating conflicts among themselves and resorting to the law (the coercive, external mandate) in order to “legalize” their established “order.”
The law, imposed in this manner, determines what is right and wrong, what is good and evil, what is legal and illegal, and what is allowed and prohibited. Therefore, the law removes man’s goodness from the realm of his heart and places it under the jurisdiction of an external, coercive mandate – the law. (The essence of the law is coercion, that is, the power to be enforced by punishment or any sort of harm. Without coercion the law ceases to be a law.) Consequently, man is no longer inspired by the goodness of the God who lives in his heart, but rather placed under the authority of an external law.
God comes to fulfill the law living in man’s heart, not the external law that is an instrument of coercion. In order to do so, God restores “his law” (the law which, since the beginning, has been an integral part of man’s nature) in the heart of men. This is the law God does not abolish, but fulfills (Matthew 5:17).
The law restored by God cannot be fulfilled by any external mandate, but only by the men who implant it in their hearts. Therefore, the strength of God’s law rests, not in its letter (or coercion), but in the Spirit of he who offers it to us.
We must regain the lost goodness of our hearts.
If we are to live the true law of God, that is, if we are to live in accordance with the inner goodness of our nature, we cannot continue to rule ourselves by external mandates lacking internal righteousness.
If we failed to do so, we will not attain fulfillment. “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of [those who impose and abide by coercive laws], you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).
Instances in which the external laws demonstrate their inadequacies, and how the goodness God implants in our hearts is the true fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:21-28):
– The law says: “You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.” But God says: “Whoever is angry with his brother is liable to judgment.”
– The law says: “You shall not commit adultery.” But God says: “everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
– The law says: you can “bring your gift to the altar.” But God says you cannot offer a gift at the altar unless you “go first and be reconciled with your brother.”
Who lacks goodness in their hearts?
“The rulers of this age” (1 Corinthians 2:6), are so entrenched in their external laws, they cannot understand the goodness God has implanted in man’s heart, they cannot understand God’s wisdom, “which God predetermined before the ages for our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7).
The rulers of this age will continue to void the goodness of man’s heart as long as they continue to rule through external laws.
We have the responsibility to restore the goodness of our hearts.
(By Jesús A. Diez Canseco).