February 16, 2014 - 6th Sunday, Ordinary Time, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Sitting in a doctor's office, a married couple quietly discussed their excitement and anticipation as the reality that they were finally going to become parents began to sink in, after more than ten years of waiting, hoping, and praying that their marriage would be blessed with the gift of a child.
The doctor came into the room and sat down at his desk, smiling at the couple as he proceeded to pull out the wife's medical file.
"It says here that you were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis approximately twelve years ago," the doctor stated.
The wife nodded, knowing this was likely the reason why the couple had experienced trouble conceiving.
"It seems to me," the doctor continued, "that there could be very serious medical ramifications if you were to continue this pregnancy."
The couple gave each other a concerned look. "What do you mean, if I continue the pregnancy?" the wife asked.
"Well, due to the many medical complications that could ensue, your health could be put at serious risk.”
Becoming uneasy, the husband asked, "What are you suggesting?" The doctor paused, then said, "I would suggest terminating the pregnancy."
At his words, the wife looked over at her husband, tight-lipped, stood up angrily, and walked out of the office.
Her husband followed close behind. The doctor had been nice enough, but his opinion was one the couple had never expected.
"I don't care what happens to me," she would later tell her husband. "If it has to come down to my life or the child's, I want you to save the baby. I'm having this baby."
The husband concurred, knowing the risks and praying that he wouldn't be faced with such a decision.
As it turned out, the doctor was completely wrong. The wife was as healthy as she had ever been in her life during the pregnancy, and, according to her husband, had never looked more radiant.
When the time came to deliver her child, she did not even have strong labor pains. She described the entire pregnancy and birth as a gift and blessing, even though it could have potentially cost her her life.
Before us are set life and death, good and evil. Which do we choose? If we choose to, we can keep the commandments.
Our scripture says they will save us.
The choice is ours and Jesus does not make the choice easy.
Our prayer often reflects this reality. We would like Jesus to make things easier for us. Jesus please take away my suffering. Jesus please give me a better job. Jesus please give me more friends.
But the simple fact is this. Jesus doesn’t always make things better or easier. Sometimes Jesus challenges us to live up to his expectations.
It is not easy to follow the commandments Jesus sets forth in the Gospel today. It is not easy to change our hearts and become holy.
Jesus is not impressed that we have never killed anyone.
He expects us to do better than that. We should not even consider insulting anyone or gossiping about anyone.
Likewise it is not enough to say that we haven’t committed adultery. Jesus asks us to root out the lust in our hearts.
Jesus wants us to get to the core of the commandments, the Spirit rather than the letter of the law.
When we are honest with ourselves, we begin to realize that we fail to attain the high moral standards that Jesus has set for us.
This is what we call sin. Sin means to miss the mark, to not get things quite right, to not reach the goal Jesus has set for us.
But that doesn’t mean we should just give up, that doesn’t mean we should stop trying.
We must do our best to center our lives on the Lord, to fill our hearts with love and to root out the evil we find there. This takes work.
Great athletes do not develop by simply learning how to dribble a basketball or catch a football, but by learning to love the game.
Great students do not blossom simply by learning the techniques needed to pass an exam, but by having a passion for knowledge.
We choose to keep the commandments not by simply changing our behaviors, but by changing our hearts, and having a love for the Lord.
We are challenged to go beyond the dos and don’ts of the law.
We are challenged to open our hearts to God.
We are asked to struggle with the evil within.
This is not easy. Change is difficult.
Before us is set life and death, good and evil.
The one that we choose will be given to us.