The Wisdom of Good and Positive Thinking

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A.
Ecclesiasticus 15:16-21 – 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 – Matthew 5:17-37.

Let me begin this reflection today with the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians: “We have a wisdom to offer those who have reached maturity … The hidden wisdom of God which we teach in our mysteries is the wisdom that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began”. This wisdom is what I’m going to put under the heading of “the wisdom of good and positive thinking”.

We may ask ourselves today: ‘what kind of thoughts do I entertain?’ Do you know that you become what you think? Rene Descartes would say, “I think, therefore I am – cogito, ergo sum”. Though he said that to mean that we are thinking beings, it also shows that what we are begins in our thoughts, in how we think and reason. So, when you purpose constantly to have a good thought, a holy thought, an uplifting thought about everything, it will affect your life entirely.

Matthew’s Gospel, from which today’s Gospel Reading is taken, was written primarily for Jewish converts to Christianity. These converts were deeply concerned about how the teachings of Jesus fitted in with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the Prophets. We read today that Jesus opens his address to his disciples by reminding them that what he is preaching is not contradictory to the Law of Moses. Jesus says, “I have come not to abolish them [the Law and the Prophets] but to complete them”. What he teaches us today is not in contradiction to what the disciples already know, but is what will help them to live out better what they have been taught by Moses and the Prophets. Just as someone remains the same individual as he grows from childhood into adulthood, so what Jesus teaches today is a completion, an upgrade, of that original teaching.

Here, Jesus is teaching us about the wisdom of good and positive thinking. Our thoughts shape not only who we are now but also what we will become. Moses taught that it was wrong to commit adultery, but Jesus says that it is wrong even to entertain thoughts of adultery. Why? Because our thoughts can lead us to put them into action. If we genuinely desire not to sin, we must try not to entertain thoughts of sinning.

Remember the old adage: ‘there is no smoke without fire’! That’s why Jesus calls us to the wisdom of not fuelling the fire of sin (what causes sin) in the first place, rather than trying to quench the fire of sin once it’s lit and blowing the smoke away (control of actual sin). Once we have grasped that, we can go on to apply it to other teachings of Jesus – for example, about avoiding anger which can lead us to kill someone physically, mentally or spiritually. We can destroy someone by words as well as actions, and it all starts when we don’t control the anger emanating from us. Have you been angry with someone? Have you ever lost control of your words, words which wounded someone? Have you ever consciously set about humiliating someone because you were angry with them? Are you  furious with anyone? Don’t you want to change? Of course you do! And here is the remedy: adopt the principle of positive thinking at every moment and in every situation.

A healthy life depends a lot on what you think! The Book of Ecclesiasticus reminds us that, when we live according to the Commandments of Our Lord we will have a long life, and when we don’t we will shorten our life. Purposely having good and praiseworthy thoughts about everything makes our life better. God will not control us with regard to what we actually do. He gives us free will to choose: “Man has life and death before him; whichever a man likes better will be given him.” The 1st Reading goes on to state that God’s “eyes are on those who fear him, he notes every action of man”. God’s focus is on those who listen to his words today. So, always be positive and think good thoughts, and then goodness and mercy will always follow you. God bless you.