Gospel Reading and Thoughts for February 16, 2014

Gospel – Matthew 5:17-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.jesus-teaching
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.”

 

Here in the Ordinary Time before Lent, we see Jesus beginning to teach the people.  He tells us that he is not getting rid of the rules but making the rules even more strict!  He is saying the gate to Heaven is much more narrow than the rules state.  How unpleasant – who likes rules??

We give our own children rules – don’t play in the street, don’t take food in the living room, no sneaking candy, wash your hands after using the restroom….  We have them and enforce them in our own families.  So, it is no surprise that Christ is setting forth spiritual rules on how to get to Heaven.

We all know that giving children limitations and restrictions helps them feel loved and know their place in the world.  In the same way, we have to know by what universal laws we need to live our own lives.  Jesus is laying before us just a few of the most earthly laws, but later on gets to the more spiritual ones about loving others.  We, as children of God, need to know what we can do to please our Heavenly Father and thus become closer to Him while we await our unity with Him in Heaven.

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