You all know people with a decent reputation. They are respectful of others and law abiding. We also know some who with a good reputation turn out to be different than we
The first reading today (Sirach 15:15-20) tells us this: “If you trust in God, you too shall live.” The gift of wisdom comes from God and that wisdom is practical knowledge of how to live
In the second reading, (1 Cor 2:6-10), Saint Paul tells us: “We speak a wisdom to those who are mature.” Because our wisdom originates --not from human reason -- but from the eternal, hidden plan of God, rulers of the present age cannot know it. It can only be grasped through divine disclosure. God's character and plan are revealed in Christ's passage through the humiliation and agony of the Cross to the Resurrection.
In our Gospel (Mt 5:17-37), today, Jesus wants us to use that "spiritual eye." He wants us to see the world through His glasses. He reminds us that it is not external behavior that determines everything, but what is more important is what is happening in our hearts.
Matthew's Gospel was written primarily for Christians who were grounded in the scripture and traditions of the ancient Hebrews--or simply Christians who had first been Jews. The gospel also focused on Jews who were considering becoming Christians as well as all who wanted to learn more about this New Way as our faith was first called.
With this in mind, we can understand Jesus's opening remarks in today's gospel: "I came not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them." In the Lord's eyes, the Hebrew Scripture is not only valid, but it holds a place of greater reverence than ever before. But merely fulfilling the precepts of the ancient law was not enough. The attitudes and lifestyles of the Christian must reflect living the law.
When he introduced the New Law of the Kingdom of God Jesus said something that was absolutely shocking. He said that the holiness of the people had to surpass that of "Perushim" [separated ones]. They strictly observed the Torah and hence they refused to mix with those who didn't observe torah vigorously.
The Pharisees dressed wearing numerous images of their religion--including phylacteries, or miniature lists of the ten commandments. These hung from their headbands so whenever they turned their
|Phylactery on his forehead, miniature 10 Commandments|
To demonstrate his point, Jesus contrasts the written law of the Torah with the new attitude of the Kingdom that must motivate this law. For example Jesus says, "You have heard it said that murder is wrong, but harboring hatred is also wrong even if you don't physically kill someone." Why? Because murder is conceived by hatred. The person who hates but does not murder is not a good person. He is just a person who has followed the social norms perhaps to avoid punishment. It is the same with all the laws and rules of the New Kingdom. The Lord's point is that following the law demands living the lifestyle that gives rise to the law. Living the life of the Lord
You see, it is not in the action itself but it is in the motivation behind the action where the person's true identity is found and formed. We are called to take upon ourselves the very identity of Jesus Christ. We are called to be selfless givers. We are called to be eternal lovers of the Father. We are called to rejoice in His presence in our families. We are not called to be minimalists in the faith. We are called to develop the facility of finding meaning in the laws that God gave us so that our external actions might truly be a reflection of our internal attitudes.
So, is it easier to be a modern Christian than an ancient Jew? Absolutely not. Christianity is extremely demanding upon us all because it calls us to be 100% committed to living in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.When we make efforts to be wholesome and sincere, then our holiness will surpass even that of the scribes and Pharisees.