Matthew 5: 17-37
Jesus said to his disciples: Don’t suppose that I came to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to do away with them, but to give them their full meaning. Heaven and earth may disappear. But I promise you that not even a full stop or comma will ever disappear from the Law. Everything written in it must happen.
If you reject even the least important command in the Law and teach others to do the same, you will be the least important person in the kingdom of heaven. But if you obey and teach others its commands, you will have an important place in the kingdom. You must obey God’s commands better than the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law obey them. If you don’t, I promise you that you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
You know that our ancestors were told, “Do not murder” and “A murderer must be brought to trial.” But I promise you that if you are angry with someone you will have to stand trial. If you call someone a fool, you will be taken to court. And if you say that someone is worthless, you will be in danger of the fires of hell.
So if you are about to place your gift on the altar and remember that someone is angry with you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. Make peace with that person, then come back and offer your gift to God.
You know that our ancestors were told, “Don’t use the Lord’s name to make a promise unless you are going to keep it.” But I tell you not to swear by anything when you make a promise! Heaven is God’s throne, so don’t swear by heaven. The earth is God’s footstool, so don’t swear by the earth. Jerusalem is the city of the great king, so don’t swear by it. Don’t swear by your own head. You cannot make one hair white or black. When you make a promise, say only “Yes” or “No”. Anything else comes from the devil.
At the end of the movie “Schindler’s List,” we are told that the state of Israel designated the Roman Catholic Oskar Schindler in 1963 a “righteous Gentile.” Schindler had never kept many Mosaic laws, and he apparently was loose in his practice of his Christian faith. But by saving 1,200 Jews from the Holocaust, he demonstrated that he had the kind of relationship with those people that Yahweh expects of all of us — Jew or gentile. For Jesus, building relationships is always more important than keeping laws.
The author of the Book of Sirach advised us to choose life. But as Paul reminded the Corinthian church, the key to that life was hidden away in God’s wisdom until Jesus arrived and unlocked it.
Integrating Jesus’ dying and rising into our everyday lives is that key. No one, in any setting, is dispensed from imitating Jesus. For all of us, one encouraging sign has been the witness of a pope who seems determined to integrate the importance of relationships into his daily life and papacy. Even the bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, is called to the righteousness that comes from being another Christ.