“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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Yes’ and ‘No’ are such simple words on the surface. They only contain a few letters but when they’re given a context, they begin to carry real weight. In context, ‘yes’ and ‘no’ could bring with them affirmation, defiance, joy, sorrow, possibility, limitation, trust, deception or much more. How we use these words reflect the people we are.
In today’s Gospel passage Jesus highlights the importance of aligning our words with our actions. He challenges his disciples to “make good to the Lord all that you vow” and “let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’” He calls them to be people of integrity in all they do and say. They need to be committed and their words need to be trusted.
For us, this teaching is critical not only to be good people, but also to help respond to our baptismal call to spread the good news and carry on Jesus’ message. How will Jesus’ message be received if our actions speak differently than the message we share? Ultimately, our words and actions, big or small, matter.
—Andy Rebollar is a Pastoral Associate at St. Pius X Parish in Grandville, MI and writes for Charis Ministries. www.spxcatholic.org
Lord, strengthen my resolve to match my words and behavior. Remove duplicity from my speech; help me to be loyal to the absent and to speak with courage and consideration.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team