Opening Question: Have you ever met someone who just knew the right thing to do? How wise were they?
First Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:6-10
We tell old people about God’s wisdom. His wisdom is different than the wisdom the world and its dying leaders claims to have. We talk about God’s wisdom, which can be mysterious. God kept his wisdom hidden from the beginning of time until he could give us glory. None of today’s leaders know about God’s wisdom. If they did know, they wouldn’t have crucified our glorious Lord. It’s just like the Bible tells us,
Our eyes didn’t see, our ears didn’t hear and our hearts didn’t understand all the things God prepared for those who love him.
But, God revealed his wisdom through his Spirit. The Spirit knows everything, even the deepest secrets in God himself.
“Student of the month is,” Mrs. Gregs paused for dramatic effect, “Elliot.”
Two or three students in the room gasped. One whispered loud enough to be heard, “Elliot? I thought Jessica would get the award.”
“Students,” Mrs. Gregs said to get their attention. Then, she turned to the first row. “Elliot, come forward.”
Elliot eased out of his desk and walked up to the front of the room. His face flushed red from embarrassment. He was just as surprised as his class was. He didn’t score an “A” on any tests this year. He was quiet in class, but he did respond when Mrs. Gregs called on him. He followed the rules as best he could. So, why was he student of the month? That was a thought he shared with the class.
“Elliot, you’re probably wondering why I’m giving you this award,” Mrs. Gregs said.
Elliot nodded his head.
“You’re student of the month because you’re an example of something very rare in the world. You’re not loud. You think before you act. You always try to do the right thing. Last week, I saw you share your sandwich with Bob at lunch. Then, you admitted to a foul during flag football. People say you’re nice, but I see something more. You have shown wisdom.” With that remark, Mrs. Gregs gave Elliot his award.
When Elliot looked out at his class, he saw growing smiles and nods from his classmates.
What’s more important than smarts? Wisdom, the ability to know the right thing to do and right way to do it. St. Paul reminded his readers of that fact, but he told them something more important than that. He told them where to find true wisdom God. He will show us the right way to act.
Bridging Question: Why do people have rules?
Gospel: Matthew 5:20-22a, 27-28, 33-34a, 37
Jesus told his followers:
If you don’t exceed the morality of religious leaders, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
You heard our ancestors say, “Do not commit murder” and “Whoever commits murder will be declared ‘guilty.’” I tell you that anyone who is angry with another person will be declared “guilty.”
You’re heard the commandment, “Do you cheat on your spouse.” I tell you that anyone looking at a woman with an evil desire for her has already cheated in his heart.
You heard our ancestors say, “Do not say ‘I swear to God’ and not mean it” and “Keep your promises to God.” I tell you not to make any promises using God’s name at all. Instead, just say “Yes” if you mean it, and “No” if you don’t. Adding anything to that is from the devil.
“You’re just a good little boy, aren’t you, Jude?”
Jude turned towards his older brother, Darren, and scowled. “I try to do the right thing, that’s all.”
Darren smiled a little. “I try to do the right thing,” the older boy mimicked Jude. “You make me sick. Do you know rules are made to be broken?”
“No, rules are there to make us better people.”
Darren eased his smile and took a step so his nose was only inches from his younger brother. “How? I want to know how they make us better people.”
Jude didn’t back away from his brother. “Rules help keep us from bad consequences. Do you remember what happened when you got caught breaking into school?”
Darren backed off a step. “You did have to remind me of that.”
“Rules help us to respect other people...”
Jude spoke over his brother. “...and helps other people respect us. Don’t you want someone to respect you, big brother?”
Darren didn’t say anything.
“Rules keep us organized. They help us to do our work at school and at home.”
Darren step back again and looked down to the ground.
“Look, Darren, I know you don’t like doing homework and chores, but doesn’t an ‘A’ on a test or a clean bedroom make you feel better?”
“Yeah, I suppose.”
“Don’t you like the respect of your teachers and Mom for a job well done?”
Darren nodded his head, then looked serious.
“But not every rule is good or makes sense.”
Jude thought for a moment. “You’re right about that, but it makes more sense to try to understand why rule exists, then to break it. Don’t you think?”
Darren smiled, “Yeah, but let’s see if you know the rules for basketball. You up for hoops, little bro’?”
Rules do make us better people. They shield us from bad outcomes, they help insure respect between people and they help keep us organized. But, they can do more. They can help us love others. That’s what Jesus taught, rules that help us love others. These rules are not easy to follow at times, but they do make us better people.
Closing Question: What rules do you have to follow? Are they easy or hard to follow? How do they help you become a better person?