Mt 5:17-37 Water Or Fire
A long time ago, someone approached me in confession and told me that a pastor had given his approval for her to use artificial birth control. She asked me what I thought. I asked her, “Why are you asking me? After all, didn’t he tell you yes?” In this particular case, the legitimate use of artificial birth control was clearly a “no-no”, and although her pastor had told her “yes”, it clearly did not sit well with her. Why? Because the truth imposes itself on us and falsehood does not leave us in peace. It is not because of old “Catholic guilt”. It is because we cannot escape from a well formed conscience; the Voice from within.
In his radio addresses, eventually compiled in a book entitled Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis sets out in logical step-by-step arguments why we should believe in God, and, in particular, the God of Jesus. He does a fantastic job. Better than anyone I know. What does it mean to be a Christian? Does it mean whatever we want it to mean or does it mean what the Lord meant it to be? To be a Christian means to follow Christ. To follow Christ means to walk in his footsteps. To walk in his footsteps means to either be carried by him or to walk behind him. But it definitely does not mean to walk in front of him; otherwise, we may find ourselves lost and alone.
To follow God in the Old Testament meant to observe the Commandments. To follow God in the New Testament means to live by His grace the Commandments. What is the difference? To observe means to follow the letter of the Law; to live means to go beyond the letter; to go beyond the mind and allow it to sink in the heart. For this reason the Lord does not allow himself to be limited by traditions, customs, or even by the times. He goes right to the heart of the matter and cuts right through our stony hearts.
It appears as though marriage has always been a hot button issue. Do any of us really think the Lord’s comment regarding marriage and divorce (and now the exclusivity of marriage) did not create a negative reaction upon his disciples? The Lord was adamant in defending his Father’s Will. We can think that God is unjust. But how did we get this idea of just and unjust in the first place? Maybe we feel inclined to disagree with Him. But there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all our reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Part I - Chapter 3)
So what shall we do? Let us take the wise advice of 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. Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him. Immense is the wisdom of the Lord” (Sirach 15:15-16). The Lord is refreshing, like water; he is parched – on fire - for our love.
Love appears to be the answer to all our distresses. When I love the Lord I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Doubt does not solve any problems, but rather paralyzes us and keeps us from walking behind Him or being carried upon His shoulders.