1st Reading: Extracted from the book of Ecclesiasticus 15:16-21
If you wish, you can keep the commandments,
to behave faithfully is within your power.
He has set fire and water before you;
put out your hand to whichever you prefer.
Man has life and death before him;
whichever a man likes better will be given him.
For vast is the wisdom of the Lord; he is almighty and all-seeing.
His eyes are on those who fear him, he notes every action of man.
He never commanded anyone to be godless, he has given no one permission to sin.
Responsorial: Psalm 118:1-2,4-5,17-18,33-34
They are happy who follow God’s law!
They are happy whose life is blameless, who follow God’s law!
They are happy who do his will, seeking him with all their hearts.
You have laid down your precepts to be obeyed with care.
May my footsteps be firm to obey your statutes.
Bless your servant and I shall live and obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see the wonders of your law.
Teach me the demands of your statutes and I will keep them to the end.
Train me to observe your law, to keep it with my heart.
2nd Reading: Extracted from the 1st letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 2:6-10
We have a wisdom to offer those who have reached maturity: not a philosophy of our age, it is true, still less of the masters of our age, which are coming to their end.
The hidden wisdom of God which we teach in our mysteries is the wisdom that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began.
It is a wisdom that none of the masters of this age have ever known, or they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory; we teach what scripture calls: the things that no eye has seen and no ear has heard, things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.
These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God.
Gospel Reading: Extracted from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 5:17-37:
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.
‘For I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire.
So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering.
Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.
‘You have learnt how it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body thrown into hell. And if your right hand should cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body go to hell.
‘It has also been said: Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a writ of dismissal. But I say this to you: everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of fornication, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
‘Again, you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you: do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is God’s throne; or by the earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great king. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’
It was the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time on 16 February 2014.
The Readings that were read in the Eucharistic Celebrations all over the world on the same day are shown above.
We have extracted the Homilies of Blessed Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I based on the aforesaid Readings to share with you, so that you could similarly be encouraged:
PASTORAL VISIT TO THE PARISH OF SAINT FULGENTIUS IN ROME
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 14 February 1999
1. "Blessed are those who walk in the law of the Lord" (Responsorial Psalm).
On this Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, which precedes the beginning of Lent by a few days, the liturgy speaks of the fulfilment of the law brought about by Christ. He declares that he has not come to abolish the old law but to fulfil it. By sending the Holy Spirit, he will write the law in the hearts of believers, that is, in the place where personal and responsible decisions are made. Here is that "something more" which will enable people to accept the law not as an external command, but rather as an inner choice. Thus the law promulgated by Christ is a law of "holiness" (cf. Matthew 5:18); it is the supreme law of love (cf. John 15:9-12).
The passage we have just heard from the Book of Sirach also refers to the personal responsibility rooted in man's heart. It emphasizes the person's freedom regarding good and evil: "He has placed before you fire and water: stretch out your hand for whichever you wish" (Sirach 15:16). This is how we are shown the way to true happiness: by docilely listening to the law of the Lord and promptly putting it into practice.
2. Dear brothers and sisters of St Fulgentius Parish: I greet you with the words of the liturgy: "Blessed are those who walk in the law of the Lord!". I have come to visit you and to share the joys and hopes, commitments and expectations of your parish community.
First, I greet the Cardinal Vicar with the Auxiliary Bishop of this area; I greet your dear parish priest, Fr Giorgio Alessandrini, the priests who work with him, and the men and women religious who work in the neighbourhood. I would like to extend a word of special appreciation to the Sisters of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle and to the Dominican Sisters, who have made their private chapels available to the faithful for the celebration of Mass on feast-days, since the parish church cannot meet the needs of the whole community. I greet those who in various ways are involved in the associations, movements and apostolic groups, as well as in the participatory structures; they are more and more dedicated to making the parish a genuine family of believers. My thoughts also turn with affection to the children and young people, to the families, the sick and the elderly. I extend my cordial greetings to all the inhabitants of this neighbourhood.
3. Dear brothers and sisters, in our daily apostolic efforts we must not, as the Apostle Paul makes clear in the second reading, be conformed to the logic of the "wisdom of this world", but to another "secret and hidden wisdom", revealed by God in Christ and through the Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6-10). These words spur and comfort every believer, especially the pastoral workers who wish to give deep spiritual vitality to their work, not seeking human success, but God's kingdom and his righteousness (cf. Matthew 6:33).
I know that you are devoting yourselves with great zeal to making your parish dynamic and open, so that it can respond to the spiritual challenges of the neighbourhood. Continue courageously on this path, giving priority to those aspects of evangelization which seek to give everyone a mature Christian formation. In the first place, foster the spiritual growth of individuals with doctrinal instruction that is firmly rooted in the tradition of the Church. To transmit zealously the patrimony of the faith demands care and methods adapted to the various age groups, without neglecting anyone: from children to young people, from families to the elderly.
A privileged place should also be given to family ministry and the preparation of young people and engaged couples for marriage. In this regard, I am pleased with your concern to promote their active participation in the liturgy and the way you encourage families to have a personal encounter with the Word of God. You must also give concrete witness to your solidarity with the poor and the suffering, and so reveal the heavenly Father's merciful love to all. Doctrinal soundness and an efficient pastoral organization will thus be combined with a generous openness to your brothers and sisters, especially those in trouble, by highlighting the missionary dimension which is part of every Christian community.
4. "Grant that the Christian people ... may fulfil the demands of the Gospel and become a sign of reconciliation and peace for every human being" (Collect, Messale Romano, p. 985).
This is how we prayed at the beginning of our celebration. May the Lord help us to be faithful to him and fearless in bearing witness to his message of salvation. May he help your community grow in missionary zeal, so that in the context of the City Mission it will spread the Gospel of hope in every home, wherever people live and work. The residents of this neighbourhood are waiting for it, many of whom are inclined, by their upbringing, social role or profession to consider the protection of their privacy as one of the most important values, sometimes, unfortunately, to the detriment of greater involvement in community life.
I think that the City Mission itself can be a fitting occasion for overcoming these problems. By carefully and enthusiastically inviting every resident of the neighbourhood to share in the parish the liberating experience of encountering Christ, you will help them grow together in mutual trust and in the sharing of faith.
Is this not the goal of the City Mission? I sincerely hope that your parish, like all the others in the Diocese, will follow this path of seeking out people where they live and work. As we near the historic event of the Jubilee, we are called to spread the Gospel, the leaven of authentic spiritual, social and cultural renewal, with ever greater zeal.
5. Such a great missionary task involves the whole ecclesial community and asks each member for a generous contribution. Special attention should be given to the young, called to be the evangelizers of their peers. With regard to the young, my thoughts already turn to World Youth Day of the Year 2000. Rome is preparing to welcome and intensely live that moment, which we hope will be an occasion of deep vocational enrichment for all the young men and women who take part, as they personally ask themselves: "Teacher, what good deed must I do?" (cf. Matthew 19:16ff.). Let us entrust the youth of Rome, and especially of this parish, to Mary's motherly heart, so that they can respond generously to the call to holiness, fulfilling what the Lord asks of each of them.
For all of the parish community, let us ask the Blessed Virgin for the gift of accepting God's will and faithfully carrying it out in everyday life.
6. Blessed are you, Father, ... you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Gospel Acclamation).
It is to little ones that God manifests his wisdom and reveals his plans of salvation. How many times in our daily work do we experience this! How many times does the Lord choose seemingly ineffective ways to carry out his providential designs of salvation!
Blessed are you, Father, because you have revealed a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which you decreed before the ages for our glorification (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:7)!
Help us to seek always and only your wise will. Make us instruments of your love, so that we may walk in your law without halting. Open our eyes, so that we can see the wonders of this law; give us understanding, so that we may wholeheartedly obey and keep it.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homily of Blessed Pope John Paul II, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
23 February 2014