Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
February 12, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.



Be unto me a protecting God and a house of refuge, to save me; for you are my support and my refuge; and for the sake of your name you will lead me and nourish me. Ps/. In you O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice, set me free; incline your ear to me, and speedily rescue me.




O God, who teach us that you abide
in hearts that are just and true,
grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace
as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen. (RM)

O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you:
Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness
we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your
grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please
you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God,
for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP)

Almighty God,
you gave the law to guide our lives.
May we never shrink from your commandments,
but, as we are taught by your Son Jesus,
fulfill the law in perfect love;
through Christ our Lord and Master,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, now and forever. Amen. (BCW)

First Reading Sirach 15:15-20

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;
   he is mighty in power, and all-seeing.
The eyes of God are on those who fear him;
   he understands man’s every deed.
No one does he command to act unjustly,
   to none does he give license to sin.

Responsorial Psalm 119:1-2,4-5,17-18,33-34

R/. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
   who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
   who seek him with all their heart.

You have commanded that your precepts
   be diligently kept.
Oh, that I might be firm in the ways
   of keeping your statutes!

Be good to your servant, that I may live
   and keep your words.
Open my eyes, that I may consider
   the wonders of your law.

Instruct me, O LORD, in the way of your statutes,
   that I may exactly observe them.
Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
   and keep it with all my heart.


You alone are the God who works wonders; you manifested your strength among the nations. Vs. With your arm you delivered your people, the sons of Israel and Joseph.

Second Reading 1 Cor 2:6-10

Brothers and sisters:
We speak a wisdom to those who are mature,
   not a wisdom of this age,
   nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.
Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden,
   which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
   and which none of the rulers of this age knew;
   for, if they had known it,
   they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
   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.

For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

 Gospel Acclamation




Sing to the Lord a new song; for the Lord has accomplished wondrous deeds.

Gospel Mt 5:2-22a, 27-28, 33-34a, 37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
   that of the scribes and Pharisees,
   you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“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.

“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.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”

Reflection Questions:

  1. What areas of “keeping the commandments and acting faithfully" are most challenging to you?
  1. How have you experienced the “searching of the Spirit” in your own depths?
  1. How might Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount apply in our polarized society? 

Catena Nova

So as far as a human being can, you must do what Christ the Son of God did, and become a promoter of peace both for yourself and for your neighbour. Christ calls the peacemaker a child of God. The only good deed he mentions as essential at the time of sacrifice is reconciliation with one’s brother or sister. This shows that of all the virtues the most important is love. (St. John Chrysostom)

We must see that there is no possible compromise between killing and being killed . . . For all violence to be destroyed, it would be sufficient for all mankind to decide to abide by this rule. If all mankind offered the other cheek, no cheek would be struck . . . If all men loved their enemies, there would be no more enemies. But if they drop away at the decisive moment, what is going to happen to the one person who does not drop away? For him the word of life will be changed into the word of death. It is absolute fidelity to the principle defined in his own preaching that condemns Jesus. There is no other cause for his death than the love of one's neighbor lived to the very end, with an infinitely intelligent grasp of the constraints it imposes. (René Girard)

Through violence you may murder a murderer but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that. (Martin Luther King Jr.)

Anger is rooted in our lack of understanding of ourselves and of the causes, deep-seated as well as immediate, that brought about this unpleasant state of affairs. Anger is also rooted in desire, pride, agitation, and suspicion. The primary roots of our anger are in ourselves. Our environment and other people are only secondary. It is not difficult for us to accept the enormous damage brought about by a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or a flood. But when damage is caused by another person, we don't have much patience. We know that earthquakes and floods have causes, and we should see that the person who has precipitated our anger also has reasons, deep-seated and immediate, for what he has done. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Thoughts that are thought about become desires. Desires that are thought about become passions. Good thoughts become virtues. Bad thoughts become bad desires; bad passions or habits of action become sins. The passions are acted upon us when we consent, then the passions move from passive to active engagement....First thoughts beget second thoughts, which become intentions. Intentions constitute motivations and indicate where the heart resides. Motivation moves the will to decide and act on the thought. Decisions give voice to the choices we intend to act upon. Attention to our thoughts reveals our intentions. Right deeds must be accompanied by the right reason, or the deed becomes wrong for us in that particular situation. Discernment is our ability to do the right deed with the right intention or motivation. (Mary Margaret Funk)

Jesus gives a series of teachings which reveal the way in which humans are utterly constituted in violence — anger is the equivalent of killing, lust the equivalent of adultery, a quarrel with a brother the complete invalidation of an act of worship of God. Because of this, the law, which Jesus does not come to abolish, does not go far enough. Jesus is determined to teach people at the level the law cannot reach: how to be free from being bound into the other by violence: so, no retribution to the other who violates you, because if you do, you remain on the same level as that person — so instead, turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile. It is only by not being stuck at the level of reacting to the violent other that we are free. Move out of reciprocally violent relationships, and into free ones. The strictures against false piety and hypocrisy are because the ones who practice those things are tied into what other people think, they are not able to act freely. They are run by the opinion, or what they hope to be the opinion of the other. Hence the tremendous importance of forgiveness, or loosing the bonds which tie one in to the violent other. For only thus can one be free, and perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. (James Alison)

[Christ] affirms that [the commandment “You shall not kill”] is violated not only by effective homicide, but also by behavior that offends the dignity of the human person, including insulting words. These certainly do not have the same gravity and culpability, such as killing, but they are in the same line, because they are its premises and reveal the same ill-will. Jesus invites us not to establish a graded list of offenses, but to consider all of them harmful, inasmuch as moved by the intent to do evil to one’s neighbor. (Pope Francis)


Sweat the Small Stuff

I really don’t know what the point of a sermon is during these weeks when we have been hearing from the greatest sermon ever preached: the Sermon on the Mount.  Why preach a sermon on top of a sermon?  We should just sit down as those first listeners did on the mountain and allow its words to sink in, challenge us, and who knows, even make us disciples.  Though I suspect it wouldn’t be long before a whole slew of inner objections started to surface as they probably did in that first congregation to hear those words, thinking to themselves, “He must be kidding.” 
Yes, it’s true.  The standards set by our Lord seem so lofty as to be out of touch with reali­ty.  The ideals of Christian conduct taught by Jesus appear so remote from normal human behavior that it’s tempting to think, “That’s all very nice, Lord, but let's get real!  If a Christian should never get angry, look twice at an attractive person, or tell a little fib, then no one will enter into the kingdom of heaven (G).  Surely, Jesus, you must be overstating your case, like every good rabbi, better to make your point.  So surely you exaggerate!” 
Well, maybe not.  Just because rabbis were known to inflate examples here and there in order to make an impression on their disciples, that doesn’t mean the Lord was merely trying to raise the ethical bar just a few inches among his followers.  It's possible while the first Moses ascended a mountain to come back with only “the biggies” — murder, adultery, perjury —  the new Moses won’t settle for making light of “the small stuff.”  Jesus just might have understood human nature well enough to know that fudging with the least of the commandments soon leads to fiddling with the greatest (cf. G; Long version).
For little things can do great damage, if for no other reason than they tend to escalate.  The road from merely disliking someone to murder, from a stolen glance to adultery, or from a little white lie to perjury is sometimes not as long as it seems.  So let's look more closely at the behaviors Jesus addresses.  Take anger.  It’s no secret this country is simmering with hostilities ready to boil over at any moment, everything from heckling the President Tuesday evening to the January 6 insurrection.  I sometimes think the United States is already engaged in a cold civil war.  And you can be sure the war began, like all wars, with those “little” fits of anger against people who serve as convenient scapegoats on whom to project one’s imagined grievances – usually people who look, think, act or worship differently than we do.  At the moment immigrants, transgendered persons, and one’s political opponents are the easy targets.  But you can be sure these animosities -- which have moved up the scale ever so steadily from anger to rage to hatred -- began with those “little” losses of temper, those “small” infractions of calling someone else Raqa, which means something like “Idiot,” or saying to someone else, “You fool” (cf. G; Long version). 
Then there’s looking at another person with lust (G).  Which, by the way, has nothing to do with normal sexual attraction but with viewing another person as an object, as a means to an end, often with only your own plea­sure or benefit in mind.  Is it any secret that such desire is ignited by the smallest of sparks?  A “little” wink here, an “innocent” flirtation there, a peek at porn?  And before you know it a marriage is in ruins, or the porn habit becomes a full-blown addiction, or an  antibiotic-resistant STD begins to spread.
And then there are those “little” stretches of the truth, when we fail to, Let our ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and our ‘No’ mean ‘No’ (cf. G).  Where does shaving a few corners from the truth lead?  Well, I hope we haven't forgotten what damage a “little” toxic loan here, a “little” dishonest dealing with mortgages there, can do to an economy.  Financial ruin can happen when a “little” cheating on your taxes here, a “little” fraudulent claim there, begin to add up, no?  And before you know it such habits of dishonesty lead to a country awash in fake news, alternative facts and oaths taken with fingers crossed.
Even so, I fear the Sermon on the Mount might still get lost in the clouds of ethical ideals ill-suited to the so-called real world. And we’ll settle for the righteous­ness…of the scribes and Pharisees (cf. G) -- meaning a self-righteousness blind to one’s own complicity in “the way things are.”
To really grasp the Sermon’s relevance for everyday life, I suppose we need what Paul calls wisdom for those who are mature. . .not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age. . Rather.... God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden... which none of the rulers of this age [know].  The wisdom God has revealed to us in the Spirit (cf. II).  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, live and reign, forever and ever.  Amen.

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that we may seek ever-greater holiness and never be satisfied with merely fulfilling the letter of the law.

For moral theologians and ethicists: that the Spirit will lead them to a greater understanding of the wisdom of God and better ways to express it so that believers may live the Gospel more faithfully.

For all who are struggling with moral decisions: that the Spirit of God will inspire them with wisdom and help them find the support they need in their faith community.

For all who struggle with anger: that God will give them the strength to direct it in productive ways and not allow it to become violent nor self-destructive.

For all who have suffered violence:  that God will heal their painful memories and that the Spirit will free them to live life fully.

For all who are recovering from disasters, especially the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria: that God will give them strength, renew their spirits, and help them find the resources that they need.

For civility in public discourse: that the Spirit will help us honor the dignity of each person and speak respectfully of those with whom we disagree.

For peace in the world, particularly in all troubled areas: that God will guide all political leaders in ending violence and protecting the innocent.

All-seeing God,
you alone judge rightly our inmost thoughts.
Teach us to observe your law from the heart
even as we keep it outwardly.
Purify our desires,
calm every anger,
and reconcile us to one another.
Then will our worship at your altar
render you perfect praise.
We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

 Offertory Antiphon


Blessed are you, O Lord, teach me your commandments. O Lord, you are blessed, teach me your commandments. With my lips have I declared all the judgments spoken by your mouth.  Ps/. Blessed are those whose way is blameless, *who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his decrees! *With all their hearts they seek him.

The psalmist praises God for having given him grace to testify to him boldly before the great ones of the earth and before the unbelievers, and begs him to continue to enlighten him as to his commandments. (Schuster)

Offertory Motet (Orlando di Lasso)

Oculos non vidit, nec auris audivit, nec in cor hominis ascendit, quae preparavit Deus his qui diligit eum.

 Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard,  nor has it occurred to the human heart what God has prepared for those who love him.

Communion Antiphon


They ate and were fully satisfied; the Lord gave them all that they desired; they were not deprived of their wants. Ps/. Give ear, my people, to my teaching; *incline your ear to the words of my mouth.  The things we have heard and understood, *the things our fathers have told us.

In its literal sense [this] alludes to the food (the quails)with which the Israelites were miraculously fed in the desert; but it is also applicable to the Holy Eucharist,of which those wonders of the Old Covenant were prophetic figures.

Closing Hymn (Marty Haugen)


Eye has not seen,
ear has not heard
what God has ready
for those who love him;
Spirit of love, come,
give us the mind of Jesus,
teach us the wisdom of God.

When pain and sorrow weigh us down,
be near to us, O Lord,
forgive the weakness of our faith,
and bear us up within your peaceful word. (Refrain)

Our lives are but a single breath,

we flower and we fade,
yet all our days are in your hands,
so we return in love what love has made. (Refrain)

To those who see with eyes of faith,

the Lord is ever near,
reflected in the faces
of all the poor and lowly of the world. (Refrain)

We sing a mystery from the past

in halls where saints have trod,
yet ever new the music rings
to Jesus, Living Song of God. (Refrain)