Gospel Reflection: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute

 

FEBRUARY 12, 2017

THE SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME 

ALLELUIA

Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.

ALLELUIA

 

A READING FROM THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST.  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.”

THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD

 

REFLECTION

We have all heard the expression used: “that’s good enough”.  Whether it is used in the work place or around the house, it means the same, namely, the person is not putting any more effort into the task, even though it is not as good as it could be done.  It reflects a minimal amount of effort, and that will have to do!

In the spiritual realm it often translates into a minimalist attitude of merely avoiding evil and not advancing goodness.  A person of this heart thinks that as long as no one got hurt and nothing apparently evil has been done then things are just fine spiritually … that’s good enough!

This spiritual minimalist attitude flies in the face of the full proclamation of the Sermon on the Mount which we began reflecting on two weeks ago and continue to do so with today’s Gospel.  Jesus Christ calls His disciples to a higher form of living.  Jesus calls us to be holy, to be saints … So be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).

Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus declaring: Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  In a similar way, Jesus came not just to help us fulfill the law, to avoid evil and do good, but to give us the fullness of life, to be perfected in Him!  Jesus expects our righteousness, our holiness to surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees.  Jesus did not come preaching a spiritual minimalism!  Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of holiness, justice and peace.

Three times this morning Jesus pushes us past the minimal attitude and effort: You have heard that it was said to your ancestors….   In three significant dimensions of life, Jesus states what used to be accepted, but then he goes on to proclaim the new possibility, the new Beatitude with His grace: But I say to you….

Jesus expects that we, who have received the infinite forgiveness of God, extend to our brother and sister the same degree of mercy!  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.  Jesus Christ has reconciled us to the Father, and in His name we must be reconciled with our brother – Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy!

For Jesus it is not enough just to avoid adultery and lust.  With His grace, Jesus is calling us to a total transformation — Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.   The integrity that Jesus calls His disciples to is one of the spirit and body, the inside and the outside. Not just an external adherence, but a transformation of mind and heart!

The Sermon on the Mount proclaims that we can do nothing but the minimal on our own, but by the power of Jesus Christ we can be Blessed, we can be holy, and we can be perfected!

Encountering the Divine Physician, Jesus Christ (St. Luke 5: 17-26) Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our website for details: MalvernRetreat.com

 

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