Gospel Reflection Feb 12 – Deacon Paul

By February 10, 2017Gospel Reflections
Sunday, February 12
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 5: 17 – 37
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment;
and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin;
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’
will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

“It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife – unless the marriage is unlawful –
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.
But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”

In today’s Gospel, we have Jesus preaching from the Sermon on the Mount, telling his disciples that his mission is to fulfill the Law, by impressing on them the need to form their hearts in the Law and in love of God and neighbor. Jesus states the law first, and then he gives a deeper interpretation. Jesus, the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets, is saying that to be a Christian is “more” than just doing the minimum the law sets out. Being a Christian is “more” than following laws and procedures.

Jesus essentially says, look, if you thought the law was tough, wait until you see this. If you really want to be my disciple, give me your heart without reservation. If we have a tendency to ask the question, “What must we do to get to heaven?” then we have failed from the beginning. Instead, we need to ask, “What can I do to love God?”

For some, the Sermon on the Mount is about how to be good now so that they can go to heaven later. It is a mistake to think of the teachings of Jesus in this way. After all, this is not where Jesus placed the priority of living the Christian life. His focus was on entering into a relationship with God.

Jesus’ call for a transformation of our heart and a higher standard of living is not a static one. Wherever we are in our spiritual walk with Christ, let us be stirred to seek spiritual maturity with our Lord and Savior. For it is those whose hearts are transformed by the love of God, shown in Jesus, who really keep the law.

Deacon Paul Zemanek