6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
•February 11, 2023
Gospel Bullet Points (Matthew 5:17-37)
- Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but he introduced a new way of thinking far beyond the literal requisite. He did not change the Law, but He added one crucial element—the element of love.
- Novel teaching about KILLING. While the Law says, “Do not kill,” Jesus adds we must not even get angry or use insulting words with others. If we do not respect our brothers and sisters deep within our hearts, we cannot say we respect God. Remember, God unconditionally loves every person. So if I am going to the Temple to pray and I remember I have offended someone, I should go and reconcile with my brother first and only then make my offering in the Temple. Otherwise, my prayers and offerings are of no real value.
- Novel teaching about ADULTERY. The Law says, “You must not commit adultery.” But Jesus says that, even if one only fantasizes about having an affair, he is already sinning because adulterous thoughts push away one’s concern and love for his or her lawful partner, even only for a few moments. Besides, we cannot just use another person as an object to give us pleasure. We cannot use another person like a toy.
- Novel teaching about DIVORCE. The Law also says, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a divorce certificate.” Divorce was legal but, according to Jesus, it was against the wife’s dignity and rights. For Jesus, it is not enough for something to be legal. It must also be good. It must also be an expression of love and justice. That is something we need to remember: things can be legal, but they are immoral.
- Novel teaching about OATHS. At the time of Jesus people guaranteed the truth of what they said by an oath before God. It said, “Do not swear falsely! Carry out what you vow.” But Jesus says, do not swear at all. Do not use God as your guarantor of what you say or promise. As followers of Christ, we are expected to be men of integrity.
- At bottom: Following Jesus, therefore, is not just a question of fulfilling the requirements of the law. It is not merely a question of what I must do according to prescribed precepts. It is, to a greater extent, a question of how much love I invest in what I do as I follow Jesus and serve my neighbors. Fulfilling the requirements of the law has less value, or no value at all, if not motivated by love.