A CALL TO STRIVE FOR A HIGHER MORAL IDEAL
Sirach 15:15-20; Psalm 118:1-2.4-517-18.33-34; 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 & Mathew 5:17-37
“Do not imagine that I have come to come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish them but to complete them.” With the above assertion Jesus Christ goes ahead in the Gospel Reading of this Sunday – Mat.5:17-37, to teach and guide us on a new and better understanding towards the keeping of the Law.
Straight-away, Jesus begins his discourse by stressing that, Unless his disciples’ virtue grows deeper than the Scribes and the Pharisees, that they will never enter into the kingdom of heaven’. Wow! This is a call to strive for a higher moral ideal beyond the ordinary. In other words, we must endeavour to be the change we wish to see in others as Mahatma Gandhi puts it.
With this clarion call to higher moral ideal, Jesus goes ahead in his teaching to discuss the issues of: MURDER, ADULTERY, DIVORCE & OATH TAKING which were as moral burning issues of his time, as they also are in our world today.
Discussing on the issue of MURDER, Jesus highlights the evil of committing murder and goes further to warn against what would lead to murder which is the harbouring of ANGER or HATRED in the heart. This is, because when the emotion of ANGER or HATRED is not well processed it would either lead to verbal violence, perjury or physical violence and eventual killing. The remedy remains; DIALOGUE, RECONCILIATION & FORGIVENESS which for Jesus must precede every of our prayers and offertory before God.
Many a time we harbour or suppress a lot of hatred and grudges against others in our hearts. We even remain indifferent to those who have genuine complaints against us, while at the same time we claim to love God and to be in good relationship with God. Jesus enjoins us today to remedy the situation by first having an open-minded dialogue with the person involved before we continue with our daily prayers and sacrifice before God.
On the SIN OF ADULTERY, Jesus again warns against the LUSTFUL SIGHT & THOUGHT that lead to LUSTFUL DESIRES in the human heart, which would eventually lead to the SIN OF ADULTERY. Here, the human heart nurses within what the eye takes in. In other words, lustful sight leads to lustful desires/act. This aligns with St Thomas Aquinas’ age-long teaching that, “Nothing enters into the human mind without passing through the senses.” This was exactly what led to the adultery of king David with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, the Hittite. David’s lust led to his sin of adultery, – (2Kings 11:2-5).
Again, this is why pornography is morally harmful. Not only that it blurs the spiritual power of the mind and heart but it eventually leads the individual to sexual gratifications: fornication, masturbation, compensation and the like. Hence, for Jesus, adultery/fornication does not just happen, it is first nursed in the heart through lust. We should therefore, not only strive to free ourselves from all occasions that pave way to sexual sins and the like, but also to block those avenues.
On the ISSUE OF DIVORCE, Jesus was quite definitive to legislate; “Everyone who divorces his wife forces her to commit adultery and that the man who marries a divorced woman likewise commits adultery” (Matt.5:32). Of course Jesus is not ignorant of the possible marital and family issues that could threaten married life but he still insists that husband and wife should not give up on themselves but to keep loving each other because CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE IS THE UNION OF TWO GOOD FORGIVERS. Therefore, success in marriage is more than finding the right person. It is rather an on-going effort by each spouse towards becoming the right person through love. This LOVE expresses itself in; consideration, dialogue, sacrifice, caring, and forgiveness.
Finally on the issue of OATH TAKING or SWEARING, Jesus puts it before us that we should not swear at all. He says that all we need to say is ‘Yes’ if we mean Yes, or ‘No’ if we mean No. For Jesus, we shouldn’t need to take oaths to prove our righteousness. In life, we just need to be honest with ourselves as well as with others. To be honest is to stand by ‘Yes’ when ‘Yes’ is the truth and to stand by ‘No’ when ‘No’ is nothing but the truth.
As today’s First Reading (Sirach 15:15-20) admonishes; the Lord has set fire and water before us. The choice is all yours to make the right choice and to always aim at giving the Lord the first place in your life and allowing His principles and values to determine and colour your daily decisions and life choices.
Rev. Fr Damian Ikemefuna Ozokwere, C.S.Sp.
Educative sermon Padre!!
This passage teaches us not to harbour or suppress hatred and grudges towards one another. We humans are good at keeping grudges to each other and still pretend to have a good relationship with God which is wrong
Thanks my dear Jane. God bless you.