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11 March 2015

Read today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 5.17-19

Those who observed Jesus’ ministry might have said that he undermined the rigid teaching of the Scribes and the Pharisees: after all he annoyed them by healing on the Sabbath, and raised the bar of interpreting the law so high. For instance saying it is not only murder which makes you liable for judgement but also being angry with a brother or a sister (Matthew 5:21-22); adultery is not just committing the act it is also looking at a woman with lust and you have already committed adultery with her in your heart (Matthew 5: 27-28); you are to love your enemies as well as friends and to pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5: 43-44). To some this was shocking!

So today’s reading comes as a bit of a surprise – Jesus insists on the importance of the Law and the Prophets – he ‘has not come to abolish but to fulfil.’

What Jesus’ audience that day needed to hear was that nothing important was being thrown away. In fact that every detail of the law was to be kept.

What stands out here is what a big responsibility we all have towards each other. Doing the right thing isn’t just a private matter – what we do affects others. If we do something dodgy, others may do the same. If we fail to do the right thing, the really generous and perhaps courageous thing – then why should anyone else?

The Kingdom of heaven is not just an arena for developing spiritual fitness or even personal holiness. It is God’s rule in hearts and lives – but also amongst peoples and nations. It is justice, it is life in all its fullness, it is a celebration of abundant life to which all are invited. We must not belittle the Kingdom by making it a merely private matter. We are called ‘to be perfect’ (to live truly for what we created to be, wonderfully restored in Jesus Christ) ‘as our heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matthew 5: 48). Again this is pure gift and not something we can achieve by our efforts. All we can do is to ‘pray in the Holy Spirit; keep ourselves in the boundary of God’s love where his joy abounds'; and always ‘looking forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to Christ, to eternal life’ (Jude 20b-21). May the Holy Spirit help us to imitate the behaviour of our Heavenly Father, God, who unlike all of us, is an enemy to no one.

Where do my attitudes and actions influence the lives of other people? Am I setting a Christ-like example?

  

Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 5.17-19

‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.