Jesus is very practical about what can corrupt our hearts. He identifies anger, lust, and dishonesty as hidden viruses capable of damaging, and even destroying, our integrity, our very souls, but if we are honest with ourselves, all of us will have to admit that we struggle with temptation in each of these areas. So what are we to do? Are we simply doomed?
When Jesus looks at our hearts, does he look away in disgust? No! He comes with his grace to cure us. We just have to give him the chance, and today’s First Reading tells us how, “If you choose,” the Book of Sirach tells us, “you can keep the commandments; they will save you.” Every day of our lives, we remain free to choose which thoughts and actions we will commit to, godly ones, or selfish ones. When a lustful thought flashes through our minds, we don’t have to accept it – we can reject it and turn to Jesus and Mary instead. When selfish anger boils up in our hearts, we don’t have to let it rule our lives – we can turn to Christ on the cross and learn from him how to turn the other cheek. When we are tempted to get ahead by compromising the truth, we can hold our tongues and cling to Sirach’s promise, “Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever He chooses shall be given him.” Jesus wants us to choose life, a fulfilling life here on earth and eternal life with him in Heaven, by choosing to reject temptation and follow him. During this Mass, He will give us the grace we need to make that choice, every day. Let’s thank Him for that, and put his grace to good use.
May the grace of God always be with you all,
Deacon Mark Ruiz