By Mike Hansen
First Reading: Sir 15:15-20
Second Reading: 1 Cor 2:6-10
Gospel: Mt 5:17-37
My wife lives by the axiom that there is no excuse for bad manners. Her truth has been honed by a lifetime of observation and personal experiences… experiences which have often found her the recipient of the rude, dismissive and unacceptable behaviour of people who have taken little notice of her personal situation or immediate needs… people who should know better and who choose to act or speak in a manner well below their best behaviour.
She likes to think that “at our best”, we would behave with consideration towards others and equal to the dignity that we ourselves expect from them in return.
In the first reading from Sirach, we see clearly that “to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice”.
And in the Gospel, Matthew has Jesus offering concrete examples of how his followers should live the moral life. Jesus calls his followers beyond the conventional wisdom and practice urging them on to perfection… “being their best,”… perfect, just as our heavenly father is perfect.
I read once that there are only two questions to wrestle with trying to live the moral life:
What do I think? and What do I do?
The examples that Jesus places before us all have to do with going that extra mile.
• Murder violates the will of God… so does harbouring vicious and angry thoughts against another.
• Reconciliation must be a first priority in the family of God otherwise, the worshipping community will be no different from the world at large.
• Whilst adultery may be prohibited… lustful thoughts and glances are also unacceptable.
• Divorce and remarriage may be legal, but this is certainly not the best outcome for a union begun with such a promise
• Conventional wisdom declared that an oath or vow should always be undertaken but Jesus warns that people should not promise what they might not be able to give.
• Seeking vengeance equal to the wrong done, even if Scripture itself allows it, should not be undertaken… the followers of Jesus will love their enemies and pray for their persecutors.
Saint Paul reminds the Corinthians that amongst themselves, they speak of a wisdom “not… of this age or of the rulers of this age”. It is a wisdom “secret and hidden” and revealed with the coming Jesus. It is a
secret that transforms the understanding (the thinking) of ourselves in relation to others and to the Holy One. This new thinking now dictates what we must do to live as disciples.
Jesus reminds us about the nature of his Father, who shows kindness to all… good and
bad alike. So the followers of Jesus should behave differently because they want to be
like God… striving for perfection.