The Gospel today is taken from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is the new Moses going up on a mountain and giving a new law. “You’ve heard it said, but I say to you”. He shows a clear display of a special authority. The law is not being abrogated, it’s not being done away with, but it’s being intensified. The Old law is raised up. The law was always meant to bring humanity into alignment with divinity.
- You’ve heard it said: you must not kill; and if anyone kills, he must answer for it before the courts; but I say this to you anyone who is angry with his brother or sister will answer for it before the courts. Killing is an action rooted in a hateful attitude; but to conform to Christ to be a true follower of Christ we have to obviously eliminate cruel and hateful actions, but we have to go deeper, we have to eliminate cruel and unplesant thoughts, cruel and harsh attitudes.
- You’ve heard it said: you must not commit adultery; but I say to you whoever looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Adultery is wrong and has to be avoided but to be a follower of Jesus we have to go further.
Conformity to God must reach to roots of our very self. Jesus made this remarkable claim in the gospel: “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. Conformity with Christ goes beyond the actions (externally) but goes deep down. This is the radical teaching of the New Moses. The churches objective is to make saints, to make them perfect, this is a tall order and many moralists will try to compromise, to look for loopholes – the teaching in some way. We hear some people who say that the moral teaching of the church is too tough and ought to change and conform itself to modernism. Catholic moral teaching is very difficult but to water it down is to compromise the church’s mission. People have always shied away from the teaching of the church and no doubt if it was put to a vote, they would change it. But the churches job is to make people perfect. On the flip side of this the church also makes a radical offer to forgiveness and understanding. To get the balance, to get the both sides right is to get the essence of Catholicism.