You Have Heard…But I Say to You

It’s mid-February and in many places mid-winter “blahs” have set in. Nights are long and cold, and the length of days that the brighter time offers may feel far off. In this Epiphany season, it is Jesus who shows us the brighter path to walk. It is Jesus who shows us life

Today’s Gospel from Matthew is one of the most intense accounts of the way Jesus changed things. “You have heard it said” he begins each part of his teaching and then goes on to say, “But I say to you.” He does what he said he would do–not abolishing the laws of God–but fulfilling them. He never says, “You have heard it said ‘You shall not kill’ but I say it’s okay.” On the contrary, Jesus’ teaching requires more–don’t be angry or name-call.  Rather Jesus challenges us to go beyond the face of the law to redefine the way we live and relate to God and each other. In fact, Jesus says, if you are going to offer your gift at the altar and remember that your brother has anything against you, leave the gift and go be reconciled. The examples Jesus gives us illustrate ways to open ourselves up to act toward others in the gracious ways God acts toward us.

Which of Jesus’ teachings in today’s Gospel do you find most difficult? It is a great compliment to be called “a person of his/her word.” Who would you name as such a person? What “yes” that God asks is most challenging for you? What “no” that God asks is easiest for you?