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Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A

In today’s Gospel, from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus brings us back to the basics of our faith: love of God and love of neighbour. Jesus says he is not contradicting the Jewish scriptures and the Ten Commandments, which give a framework of discipline and order. However, he is opposed to the legalistic type of religion the scribes and Pharisees have built upon them, full of petty rules which have little to do with God’s Law.

Jesus says that the Pharisees have so defined the Law in their own terms that they have missed the point and, rather shockingly, he declares - “If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.” No wonder the religious authorities didn’t like him!

In the gospel Jesus expounds the Law as it pertains to six subjects: murder, adultery, divorce, oath-taking, retaliation, and love for one’s enemy. Instead of a litany of more commandments, Jesus looks to the spirit of the Law. The presence of God’s life within us is the real reason the Law commands us not to kill others, and not to lie about them or steal from them. In other words, we are called to love like God loves. It is the challenge presented by the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus himself lived up to this ideal. His life of love and compassion is the kind of life we are called to live.

The 1st Reading suggests that there is a choice to be made, and it is between what gives life and what brings death. Being a Christian is more than following the rules, including attending Mass. Jesus wants us to make choices that support, sustain, grow and nurture life for ourselves and one another. We choose life when we care for those who are poor, respect the dignity of every human being and protect God’s creation. We choose life when we are generous with our time, compassion, money and resources.

Would anyone looking at us and listening to us know that God is at the centre of our lives? Jesus says we should love others and the world as God does. We are to be compassionate and passionate – not lukewarm people. The Beatitudes call us to humility, simple living and peace, which often oppose prevailing values in the world. Our human lives are capable of transformation when we reflect something of God’s glory and love in our daily lives.

Wishing you well for the week.

Fr Bret

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