Jesus said, ‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
If I feel powerless, then nothing that I do or neglect to do will seem to me to make any difference. This undermines the very source of action, for it robs my actions of their meaning. This emptiness of meaning, this vacuum, cannot be endured for long. How could I endure the thought that my life was meaningless and unrelated, like a piece of junk in a scrap-yard? The human heart, like nature itself, abhors a vacuum. This vacuum is soon filled with anger at my predicament. Perhaps this is what underlies much of the violence and vandalism that we see multiplying around us.
Am I really powerless? If the social and political world around me is a violent jungle, is my life therefore meaningless? Have I no meaning unless the whole world agrees that I have it? Surely I can do something myself! Surely I can think my own thoughts and bring them to fruition. If I say I cannot, then I am only blaming others as an alibi for doing nothing myself.
In the words of today’s gospel, I can say yes when I mean yes and no when I mean no. Direct speech. I can do something, or I can leave it undone. If I do not want to go I will not go; but if I go I will go, dancing! I will not drag myself.
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