6th Sunday after Epiphany.yr. A.12 Feb17

 Blue Mountains Franciscan Church,Sermon preached  on Sunday 12th February 2017, at Springwood by Br Simeon efo



Gospel: Matthew 5: 21-37


Image from slideshare Law of God

“Do not think I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. Amen, I say to you, I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. 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 . . .
“You have heard it 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 is liable to judgment . . .”
“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’”

A priest, a minister, and a rabbi want to see who’s best at his job. So each one goes into the woods, finds a bear, and attempts to convert it. Later, they all get together. The priest begins: “When I found the bear, I read to him from the catechism and sprinkled him with holy water. Next week is his first Communion.”
“I found a bear by the stream,” says the minister, “and preached God’s holy Word. The bear was so mesmerized that he let me baptize him.”
They both look down at the rabbi, who is lying on a gurney in a body cast. “Looking back,” he says, “maybe I shouldn’t have started with the circumcision.”

In the Name of the One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today our Gospel Reading is taken from Matthew 5: 21-37, however in the Roman Lectionary for today it is taken from a little further back, which is from Mt 5:17-37. So, I read the verses from 17-21, and I add them here so you then have the rest from 21-37.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’

Today’s Gospel is the first indication of trouble between Jesus and the leaders of the Jews. The role of the scribes evolved from that of recorders and codifiers of the Torah into that of interpreters of the specific rules and regulations of the Torah. The Pharisees, the “separated brethren,” removed themselves from everyday activity to keep the Law assiduously, thereby serving as a model to the Jewish people who held them in great esteem.

While the scribes and Pharisees were extreme legalists in their interpretation of the Law, Jesus is the ultimate supra-legalist. He takes their legalities a step further: The Spirit of God, which gives life and meaning to the Law, transcends the letter of the Law. Jesus preaches that we cannot be satisfied with merely avoiding the act of murder but must also curb the insults and anger that lead to murder; we cannot be satisfied with justifying separation and estrangement but must actively seek reconciliation and forgiveness; we cannot be satisfied with just fulfilling contracts to avoid being sued but must seek to become honest and trustworthy persons in all our dealings. Jesus comes to teach an approach to life that is motivated neither by edict nor fear but by the recognition and celebration of the humanity we share with all men and women.

For Jesus, the human heart is decisive. It is the “new” Law’s emphasis on the attitude of the heart that perfects and fulfils the principles and rituals of the “old.”
By our compassion and caring for others, by our ethical and moral convictions, by our sense of awareness and gratitude for all that God has done for us, we do the great work of passing on the Gospel of reconciliation and justice – and God is with us as we struggle to figure out and explain the complexities and struggles of life for the benefit of ourselves and our children and those who overwhelmed by it all who come to us for help.

Faith begins in the heart, Jesus says. What we say, what we do, what we decide, are all responses to the God who speaks to us in the depths of our hearts, the God in whose image and likeness we have been created. Christ speaks not of rules and regulations but the much deeper and profound values of the human heart.

The truth is not contained in laws, oaths, statistics or rituals but in the Spirit of God that prompts us to make the decisions we make, the wisdom that leads us to the enactment of just laws and the celebrations of rituals that meaningfully remember and celebrate God’s great love for us.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus asks us to consider the weight and meaning of what we say – and to realize the chasm that often exists between our words and our actions.

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