Saturday, February 12, 2011

Homily: He has set before you fire and water

He has set before you fire and water

to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.

So it’s true, I’m probably
borderline pyro… I love playing with fire.

I love being close to the fire, but I learn ever so often that… “If you
play with fire, you’re going to get burned.”

You know those screens that are on a fire place. It turns out they are there for a
reason. Now I have to be honest, I
really don’t like anything blocking me from seeing the flames and feeling the
warmth of the fire, so I like to leave them open. I was out at our house on our day off with a
couple other priests lying in front of the fireplace trying to get warm. One of the priests who’s a little more on the
safe side said “I think you should close those doors.” “No,” was my response. I don’t want anything blocking me from the
fire.

Moments later… a pop sounded
loudly. Yes, this is great… the
crackling sound of the fire, the warmth… wait a minute I think I feel something
burning… yes, a hot ember had blazed a big hole through my “Snuggie” burned my
leg. “If you play with fire, you’re
going to get burned.”

We here in Sirach: “If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save
you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand
. So the idea is that there are basic
commandments that God gives us for our safety.

God in His great wisdom and knowledge lets us know that we are always
free to choose and so He gives us commandments to guide us on the way. Yes, we can get as close to the fire as we
want and he won’t stop us…
Before man are life and death, good and evil,whichever he
chooses shall be given him.

We are completely free in choosing and this is almost terrifying. But, God does give us commandments to warn us
and to keep us safe if we so choose.

And yet, the old adage rings true… “If you play with fire,
you’re going to get burned.” Jesus warns
us in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the
prophets. I have come not to abolish but
to fulfill.”
There is sin in
this world. There are things that we can
do that can get us burned. We are free
to do them, we are free to toy with them if we so choose, but that doesn’t
change the fact that they are deadly. So
much so that Jesus warns us not to even get close to them, not to even play
with the fire:

“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 brother
will be liable to judgment… whoever says, ‘You fool,’
will be liable to fiery Gehenna.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.
But I say to you, do not swear at all;

Jesus is making it very clear that if “You play with fire,
you’re going to get burned.” He’s
showing us the gravity of even playing with the smallest of sins. And so we must ask ourselves: “Is there any
sin that we are toying with in our lives?”

“Is there any fire that we are playing with that is going to end up
burning us?” “Is there anything we are
doing that he has commanded us not to do?”

If you play with fire, you get burnt.

God sets before us fire and water. Life and death. It’s our choice. So if we realize we don’t want fire (sin and
death), what will motivate us to choose water (life and holiness)?





So here’s a little
reflection on water. We need it. We need to drink lots of water every day,
regardless of how we feel. And when the
weather is hot or were doing a lot of exercise we need to drink more. WebMD makes it very clear… “Do not wait for
signs of dehydration.” Once the signs
are there, it’s too late. We are
dehydrated long before we realize it. So
the idea is that we need to continuously drink in water, whether or not we are
thirsty. The problem is far too often we
don’t drink it until we are over thirsty and already dehydrated.

This corresponds so well with the spiritual life. Our primary source of water is the
Eucharist. We need to come here to the
font and drink abundantly of the water.

From the Eucharist we can be hydrated all through the week with daily
prayer. Here’s the important tie in to
water – whether or not we feel thirsty we need to keep drinking the water, we
need to keep coming and drinking from the source of life in the Eucharist, and
we need to keep drinking God’s grace throughout our lives in our daily
prayer. Regardless of our feeling of
thirst, we need it. If we don’t continue
to hydrate ourselves with the Eucharist and Prayer we will become
dehydrated. If you miss even one Sunday
Eucharist, which is a grave and seriously sin, you will be dehydrated and
playing with fire.

Far too often we wait until we are thirsty to drink and it’s
too late. The problem is that we wait
until we are desperate to pray, we wait until we are completely exhausted and
depleted before we go to God. We wait
until we need something or realize we’ve been trying to quench our thirst with
something other than God and it’s too late.

We are tired, dehydrated, burnt, irritable, and sick.

We don’t have to get like this to realize that we need to
keep drinking water. We need to come
here and drink every Sunday whether we feel like it or not, especially when we
don’t feel like it. We need to pray
every day even before we feel like we need to.

It is through the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist and Daily Prayer
that we keep hydrated. We need to drink
lots of water, every day, even before we are thirsty.

The same could be said today as we celebrate world marriage
Sunday and Monday being Valentine’s Day.

Hydrate your marriages before you realize you are
thirsty. Make time daily to hydrate each
other with love and affection. Come
together as a family to the Sunday Eucharist and pray together even when you
don’t feel like it, especially when you don’t feel like it. And stay away from any fire of temptation
anything that leads to the flame of lust.

He has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.

Jesus shows us the gravity of playing with sin today’s
Gospel. “If you play with fire, you get burned.” He also offers to share with us the water of
life. We receive this in the Sunday
Eucharist and in our daily prayer.

Ultimately, the choice is yours.

Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.

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