First Reading: ( Sirach 15:15-20)
If you choose, you will keep the commandments and so be faithful to his will. He has set fire and water before you; put out your hand to whichever you prefer.
A human being has life and death before him; whichever he prefers will be given him. For vast is the wisdom of the Lord; he is almighty and all-seeing. His eyes are on those who fear him, he notes every human action.
He never commanded anyone to be godless, he has given no one permission to sin.
Responsorial Psalm: (Psalms 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34)
How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the Law of Yahweh!
Blessed are those who observe his instructions, who seek him with all their hearts,
You lay down your precepts to be carefully kept.
May my ways be steady in doing your will.
Be generous to your servant and I shall live, and shall keep your words.
Open my eyes and I shall fix my gaze on the wonders of your Law.
Teach me, Yahweh, the way of your will, and I will observe it.
Give me understanding and I will observe your Law, and keep it wholeheartedly.
But still, to those who have reached maturity, we do talk of a wisdom, not, it is true, a philosophy of this age or of the rulers of this age, who will not last long now.
It is of the mysterious wisdom of God that we talk, the wisdom that was hidden, which God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began.
None of the rulers of the age recognised it; for if they had recognised it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but it is as scripture says: What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, what the mind of man cannot visualise; all that God has prepared for those who love him; to us, though, God has given revelation through the Spirit, for the Spirit explores the depths of everything, even the depths of God.
‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. In truth I tell you, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, is to disappear from the Law until all its purpose is achieved.
Therefore, anyone who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of Heaven; but the person who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of Heaven.
‘For I tell you, if your uprightness does not surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of Heaven. ‘You have heard how it was said to our ancestors, You shall not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court.
But I say this to you, anyone who is angry with a brother will answer for it before the court; anyone who calls a brother “Fool” will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and anyone who calls him “Traitor” will answer for it in hell fire.
So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering.
Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. In truth I tell you, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny. ‘You have heard how it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say this to you, if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye should be your downfall, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of yourself than to have your whole body thrown into hell. And if your right hand should be your downfall, cut it off and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of yourself than to have your whole body go to hell. ‘It has also been said, Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a writ of dismissal. But I say this to you, everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of an illicit marriage, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
‘Again, you have heard how it was said to our ancestors, You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you, do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is God’s throne; or by earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the Evil One.