“Again, 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Jesus’ prohibition against oaths in today’s Gospel emphasizes our utter poverty in offering collateral to back up what we swear to do. The heavens and the earth, and even our own body, are ultimately only lent to us so that we, in the words of St. Ignatius Loyola, “may accomplish the end for which we are created” each day: to attain salvation and glorify God. The complete sacrifice of Elisha in the first reading today (1 Kgs 19:19-21) models how ready we ought to be to drop everything and watch it all go up in smoke when God calls us away from our paltry ways of doing things into his ever greater Way.
How can I say “yes” to God today? Lord Jesus, help me to mean it.
—Fr. Michael Wegenka, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. He was ordained to the priesthood last weekend. His first assignment as a priest will be at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Grand Coteau, La.
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing.
—Excerpt from the Wesley Covenant Prayer