February 12, 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Going farther: a Sunday Scriptures blog

Today’s Gospel is the third of four continuous readings from Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount (Chapter 5). Jesus is summarizing for his listeners the moral life, describing for them what a good person looks like. Many early Christians in Matthew’s community were Jewish converts, so Matthew includes elements that were familiar and reassuring to them: that Jesus is not abolishing the Jewish law; that yes, the commandments are still in place; and that the Sanhedrin (the Jewish law court) was still the judge of bad behavior, for example. But then Jesus begins to challenge them. “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees” — the moral leaders of the day — “you will not enter the kingdom of heaven,” he says. He gives them examples. It’s not enough to not kill anyone; even anger is sinful. It is not enough to avoid adultery; lust is also sinful. Jesus asks his disciples for more: more depth in our love, more sacrifice. This lesson is a difficult one. Few of us realize what will be asked of us through the essential choices we make in life. To stay faithful to what we understand as our calls, we have to keep going beyond what we originally thought, beyond what other people expect, beyond what society says is asked of us. Jesus’ own life and his death consistently exemplified this “going beyond” character of goodness. Where in your life have you had to choose between walking away or staying and going beyond — in love, in compassion, in forgiveness, in patience?

— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia

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