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I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | God’s word leads us back to His heart

The readings for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time suggest the word of God comes directly from His heart, and if we follow His word, it leads us directly back to His heart.

In the first reading from Sirach, we learn that if we exercise the free choice of keeping His commandments, the commandments will save us. What does it mean to be saved by the word of God? Does it mean we will be saved from starving to death or losing our property or friends?

We aren't our property; we aren't our friends; we're more than physical beings. We're beings composed of flesh and spirit, made in the likeness of God and destined to find fulfillment united to Him, whether on this earth or in eternity. So what does it mean to find fulfillment in Him? It means our spiritual being is destined to dwell in union with His being, one with Him, both on this earth as well as after.

Sirach wrote, "If you trust in God, you too shall live." It might be easy to place our trust in things that we use and enjoy, but to place our trust in the invisible God is another story. This is faith; investing our spirit in His word leads to union with Him.

"Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given to him." We might choose life or death. We might choose good or evil. Whatever we choose will be given to us. If we choose evil, death will be given to us. If we choose good, life in God will be given to us.

God's wisdom and power are immense. There is so much wisdom and power God wishes to share if we choose Him.

Paul alluded to the mysterious wisdom of God. "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 to us through the Spirit." The Holy Spirit of God reveals the mystery of God's infinite wisdom to our hearts. We can't attain this wisdom merely by the light of reason, but only through the Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel, Jesus reveals a deeper meaning of God's word. The word of God in the Old Testament focused on external actions, but Jesus focuses on the origin of those external actions, the hidden motives in our hearts.

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment,'" Jesus said. He uses the term "anger" not as a momentary movement of the heart, but rather as a state of remaining angry.

As Paul wrote: "Be angry but do not sin. Do not let the sun go down upon your anger so as to give Satan a foothold." If anger corrects a wrong, then it is a good movement of the heart. Christ used anger to cleanse the temple. However, Christ didn't hold on to anger in order to vent it later.

Christ likens the latter to murder. Whenever we hold on to anger, it becomes addictive, and evil spirits often enter, only to inflame it even more.

It's hard to listen to the evening news without becoming affected by the anger we witness. It's easy for this anger to enter our hearts and inflame us.

Jesus is compassionate toward all who are engaging in strife and in angry interchanges. Jesus, who wept over Jerusalem, also daily weeps over the world situation.

There is nothing wrong with our initial anger as we see injustices committed on the world stage, but that anger becomes a gift only if we do something constructive with it. One of the most constructive uses for this anger is to allow the Holy Spirit to move us to intercessory prayer. This has a two-fold positive effect. It helps mitigate the evil in the world, and it protects our hearts from entering into bitterness.

When we enter into intercessory prayer, we move into the heart of an all-good God. We participate in His compassion and His love for the perpetrators. In doing so, we also weaken the forces of darkness within the perpetrators.

Begin to watch the players on the world stage, not as mere human beings in conflict with each other, but rather as Satan alive in their hearts; they have no clue that they're victims of invisible evil spirits tormenting them.

Bringing this closer to home, what works on the world stage also works on the family stage and on the social stage. If you want personal relationships to change, when someone expresses anger toward you, before you respond, begin by praying for that individual. This will leave you incredibly peaceful. This is the work of the Holy Spirit calming your heart. This is the beginning of peace breaking out in your closest relationships. Staying close to God through intercessory prayer for others is nothing less than entering into His goodness toward them. 

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