daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Friday, 10th Week of the Year, June 13, 2014
1 Kings 19:9, 11-16, Ps. 26, Matt. 5:27-32

Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell" (Matt. 5:27-29).

We need to do more than just avoid the very act of adultery. It is also necessary to avoid the occasions of sin and try to guard our thoughts. It is thereof important that we take a good look at our lifestyle and see whether there is sufficient distance between men and women in the way we organize our life and our community. This is especially important in celibate communities of consecrated persons. Sirach says, "Never dine with another man's wife, nor revel with her at wine; lest your heart turn aside to her, and in blood you be plunged into destruction" (Sir. 9:9). This is good advice for us as well. We have to be realistic about how we organize our life so that our way of living helps us to be chaste, rather than leading us into more and more temptations. This is important, for "can a man carry fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk upon hot coals and his feet not be scorched?" (Prov. 6:27-28). Men and women cannot live in too great a proximity to each other without falling into temptation. We must therefore avoid a lifestyle that puts too much proximity between men and women.

A dangerous and harmful friendship must also be cut off, even if it is like plucking out our right eye or cutting off our right hand. Jesus wants us to make great sacrifices to guard the purity of our heart.

Celibates especially should live in communities that are exclusively masculine or feminine, not in so-called experimental "integrated communities" of men and women living together and eating, recreating, working, etc. together. This would be the destruction of celibacy and chastity, and would destroy communities of consecrated life. The very community that was established to sustain, support, and protect a happy, healthy celibate life would be transformed into a constant occasion of temptation and sin. The very community that was intended to help us live well as celibates would in this way become a situation in which we are constantly presented with that which leads us astray from an undivided love for the Lord alone with all our heart (1 Cor. 7:32-34), for it would be difficult for the men and women who are living in such proximity not to fall in love with each other.

We should therefore pluck out and cut off from us these so-called "integrated communities" that are nothing but occasions of temptation and sin, and are the destruction of consecrated, celibate, and religious life, for "it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell" (Matt. 5:29).


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