June 14, 2012 - Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

1 Kings 18:41-46
Psalm 65:10-13
Matthew 5:20-26

At this point in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has made clear that the call of the Christian life is no easy road. He sets a standard that we must not minimize: unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. These were men who dedicated their entire lives to learning the law and following its every nuance and even going beyond the law with stricter requirements. We are not going to beat them at their own game, so Jesus must mean that we need to play a different game.

The righteousness that Jesus is speaking of clearly does not come from merely obeying the law. How could our righteousness exceed the scribes and Pharisees in that regard? No the righteousness that Jesus is speaking of is about a commitment. The scribes and Pharisees followed every law so that they would be free to do what they wanted if there was not a law exactly about it. Sometimes they used philosophical arguments to create little loopholes in the law which they then exploited to be free from the law.

Jesus is making clear by his interpretation of the law that there are no loopholes. Do not kill does not only apply to killing but to every sort of violence, physical or verbal or even mental, against another human being. What Jesus is saying is that if I am looking for a way to kill someone or do harm to them without going to Hell, then my mind is not in the right place. If I am looking for a way to commit sin without technically committing sin, my task is hopeless.

We are not at war with God! He is not an evil tyrant who prevents us from having any fun. God is not our enemy. We know this, but we doubt it. “Why can’t I do that? Why is this against the rules? How far can I go?” Such questions are foolish and anyone who asks them is outside the Kingdom of God. “What should I do? What is God’s plan for me? How much could I accomplish if I tried?” These are the questions that Christians ask. We are followers of the way. Our goal is to become who God wants us to be. A Christian never has to choose between what they want and what God wants. The will of God is our only guide.