Little ways 2 Rightness
Sir 15:15-20; Cor 2:6-10; Mt 5: 17-37
From the Beatitudes two weeks ago, to salt and light last week, to the commandments and the law this week. Ultimatley, I will t’s about the heart. Scripture scholar Alice Camille says we don’t like the law. Let’s face it: we all know that a yellow traffic light means to speed up, right? She says there is tendency in us to evade them if we can –- in violations for speeding, parking and traffic lights. But in our heart of hearts we also know that law is to protect us. At intersections, what if we all went when we wanted? The law saves us. St. Thomas More said to his son-in-law, Will Roper: “England is planted think with laws. If we cut them down – … who could stand in the winds that would blow?” The first reading says of the commandments, “They will save you.” This is part of ‘God’s wisdom,’ noted in the second reading. The law preserves us. In the gospel today, the focus is on divine law. It is relational — the way we treat others: relationships. It’s a basic principle in the spiritual life that the way we treat others reveals the way we treat God, as well. The locus is the heart. Christ is saying that our behavior must not disregard the letter, but get to the spirit. Today we call this integration. It goes to the heart.
Seeking reconciliation with others and with God leads to conversion of heart, interior conversion. Pope Francis says his favorite film is the 80s film, Babette’s Feast. It’s about a down-on-her-luck French chef, Babette, who is taken in by a church community in seaside Scandinavian town. To express her gratitude, she spends all her money to cook a feast for them. The final scene shows these church people enjoying a great meal together. They had split into factions, but the meal moves their hearts to forgive each other their petty mistreatments – and they say it, too. It is symbolic of the Eucharistic liturgy which is meant to be transformative. They love each other.
Barbara Reid, O.P. says it starts with little things. She points to St. Therese of Lisieux, ‘the little flower,’ in her ‘little way.’ She did little things out of love for God: e.g. while chopping vegetables in the kitchen, she practice courtesy toward a sister, also at the chopping block, who got on her nerves — yes, even in the cloistered monasteries of nuns! That is why she is an example to us all. Because she shows us in the ordinary things of life, we can grow in holiness and move toward perfection which is to say, toward God. In little things like this, we move toward God. It’s all in the details. It goes to the heart.
So do an act of kindness this week and expand your’s heart? Tuesday is Valentine’s Day, a golden opportunity. Don’t say, “O she knows I love her.” That’s what people say about God, too. It’s baloney. Say it. Do it. It’s all in the details. It goes right to the heart!