Christ In Me

Brothers and sisters:
If only you would put up with a little foolishness from me!
Please put up with me.
For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God,
since I betrothed you to one husband
to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning,
your thoughts may be corrupted
from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ.
For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached,
or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received
or a different gospel from the one you accepted,
you put up with it well enough.
For I think that I am not in any way inferior to these “superapostles.”
Even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not so in knowledge;
in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

Did I make a mistake when I humbled myself so that you might be exalted,
because I preached the Gospel of God to you without charge?
I plundered other churches by accepting from them
in order to minister to you.
And when I was with you and in need, I did not burden anyone,
for the brothers who came from Macedonia
supplied my needs.
So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.
By the truth of Christ in me,
this boast of mine shall not be silenced
in the regions of Achaia.
And why? Because I do not love you?
God knows I do!
(2 Corinthians 11:1-11)

Scripture Study

11:1 bear with me: Paul asks readers to tolerate a little boasting on his part, even though he dislikes it and knows it is foolish.

11:2 I betrothed you to Christ: Paul is the “father” (1 Cor 4:15) of the Corinthians and thus in charge of safeguarding their purity before marriage. He is preserving them for Christ, the husband, who is already betrothed to them by covenant but who waits to receive them into his home as a chaste bride (literally, “virgin”). This marital imagery is frequent in the NT (Mt 25:1–13; Eph 5:23–32; Rev 19:7) (CCC 505, 796).

11:3 the serpent deceived Eve: An allusion to Gen 3:1–7. ● Paul looks back to the Fall of Adam and Eve to warn readers that the same danger once present in the Garden of Eden is now lurking in Corinth. He fears that the Corinthians, like Eve, will be lured away from Christ by the seductive voice of evil. Satan is once again the intruder, this time disguised as the “false apostles” (11:13).

11:4 another Jesus: A distorted message about Jesus in conflict with the apostolic gospel.

11:5 superlative apostles: A sarcastic title for the counterfeit apostles in Corinth (12:11). It suggests they viewed themselves as superior to Paul. See note on 2 Cor 11:13.

11:7–11 Paul defends his practice of refusing financial assistance from the Corinthians. He was able to support himself among them by donations from other Churches (11:8) and by manual labor, probably tent making (Acts 18:3). The Corinthians unfortunately took this as an insult and an indication that Paul did not love them (2 Cor 11:11). To counter this, Paul reveals several reasons for this pastoral decision. (1) He wished to lay no unnecessary burden on them (11:9). (2) He hoped to accentuate the stark difference between his ministry and that of his opponents, who greedily took advantage of the Corinthians’ resources (11:20). (3) As their spiritual “father” (1 Cor 4:15), he wanted to provide for them in the same way that parents do for their children (2 Cor 12:14). In the end, Paul’s tireless labor was a greater expression of love than accepting their monetary gifts (12:15).

Scripture Reflection

The whole passage shows very clearly St Paul’s passionate temperament and his ardent zeal for souls; he does not mind doing something which costs him a great deal, if that is what has to be done to ensure that souls he has won for Christ are not lost; and he overlooks the fact that the Corinthians have not spoken out on his behalf, as was their duty, that they have not responded to his love and vigilance for them, or that his words have been misinterpreted. His attitude stands as a very good example of upright intention: he devotes his whole life to souls, seeking no human recompense.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Father Sees All

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”(Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18)

Scripture Study

6:2 give alms: Charitable gifts given to the poor (Sir 17:22; Lk 3:11; CCC 2447). hypocrites: Refers to “actors” or “stage players”. Jesus may have certain scribes and Pharisees in mind (cf. 23:5, 27–28) who perform outward devotions to be seen and praised by men. The exercise of one’s faith can be public, so long as it flows from proper intentions (5:16).

6:6 in secret: Private prayer stands in contrast to the false piety of hypocrites. It was Jesus’ own custom to withdraw from the public and pray alone to the Father (14:23; Mk 1:35; Lk 9:18). Private prayer is a complement to communal prayer, not a rejection of it (cf. 18:20; Acts 1:12–14; CCC 2602, 2655).

6:17 anoint your head: Fasting was often a public practice accompanied by wearing sackcloth and putting ashes on one’s head (Esther 4:3; Dan 9:3). While it was intended to express inner repentance, hypocrites utilized it to appear devout. Washing and anointing outwardly symbolize happiness and disguise one’s inner commitment to God (Ruth 3:3; Ps 23:5; Is 61:3; CCC 1438).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, todays Gospel prescribes the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I want to speak about the Biblical principle behind almsgiving. I know I’ve quoted to you before some of the breathtaking remarks of saints and Popes. For example, Pope Leo XIII said, “once the demands of necessity and propriety have been met, the rest of your money belongs to the poor.” St. John Chrysostom said—and St. Ambrose echoed him—“For the man who has two shirts in his closet, one belongs to him; the other belongs to the man who has no shirt.” These ideas are, of course, rooted in the Biblical prophets, who continually rail against those who are indifferent to the poor.

Compassion is key to Christian ethics, learning to suffer with and feel with the other. We’re not dealing with an abstract Aristotelian moral philosophy, but rather with something more visceral.

This is precisely why the two great commandments are so tightly linked: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…and love your neighbor as yourself.” In loving God, you feel the feelings of God, and God is compassionate to the poor and oppressed. That’s all the argument that a Biblical person needs.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

Enriching Poverty

We want you to know, brothers and sisters, of the grace of God
that has been given to the churches of Macedonia,
for in a severe test of affliction,
the abundance of their joy and their profound poverty
overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
For according to their means, I can testify,
and beyond their means, spontaneously,
they begged us insistently for the favor of taking part
in the service to the holy ones,
and this, not as we expected,
but they gave themselves first to the Lord
and to us through the will of God,
so that we urged Titus that, as he had already begun,
he should also complete for you this gracious act also.
Now as you excel in every respect,
in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness,
and in the love we have for you,
may you excel in this gracious act also.

I say this not by way of command,
but to test the genuineness of your love
by your concern for others.
For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that for your sake he became poor although he was rich,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
(2 Corinthians 8:1-9)

Scripture Study

8:1 The grace of God: the fundamental theme is expressed by the Greek noun charis, which will be variously translated throughout these chapters as “grace” (2 Cor 8:1; 9:8, 14), “favor” (2 Cor 8:4), “gracious act” (2 Cor 8:6, 7, 9) or “gracious work” (2 Cor 8:19), to be compared to “gracious gift” (1 Cor 16:3).

8:2 Three more terms are now introduced. Test (dokimē): the same root is translated as “to test” (2 Cor 8:8) and “evidence” (2 Cor 9:13); it means to be tried and found genuine. Abundance: variations on the same root lie behind “overflow” (2 Cor 8:2; 9:12), “excel” (2 Cor 8:7), “surplus” (2 Cor 8:14), “superfluous” (2 Cor 9:1) “make abundant” and “have an abundance” (2 Cor 9:8). These expressions of fullness contrast with references to need (2 Cor 8:14; 9:12). Generosity: the word haplotēs has nuances of both simplicity and sincerity; here and in 2 Cor 9:11, 13 it designates the singleness of purpose that manifests itself in generous giving.

8:3–4 Paul emphasizes the spontaneity of the Macedonians and the nature of their action. They begged us insistently: the same root is translated as “urge,” “appeal,” “encourage” (2 Cor 8:6, 17; 9:5). Taking part: the same word is translated “contribution” in 2 Cor 9:13 and a related term as “partner” in 2 Cor 8:23. Service (diakonia): this word occurs also in 2 Cor 9:1, 13 as “service”; in 2 Cor 9:12 it is translated “administration,” and in 2 Cor 8:19, 20 the corresponding verb is rendered “administer.”

8:5 They gave themselves … to the Lord and to us: on its deepest level their attitude is one of self-giving.

8:6 Titus: 1 Cor 16 seemed to leave the organization up to the Corinthians, but apparently Paul has sent Titus to initiate the collection as well; 2 Cor 8:16–17 will describe Titus’ attitude as one of shared concern and cooperation.

8:7 The charitable service Paul is promoting is seen briefly and in passing within the perspective of Paul’s theology of the charisms. Earnestness (spoudē): this or related terms occur also in 2 Cor 8:22 (“earnest”) and 2 Cor 8:8, 16, 17 (“concern”).

8:9 The dialectic of Jesus’ experience, expressed earlier in terms of life and death (2 Cor 5:15), sin and righteousness (2 Cor 5:21), is now rephrased in terms of poverty and wealth.

Scripture Reflection

Jesus Christ is the example of detachment and generosity. Our Lord, because he is God, was in need of nothing; but by becoming man he voluntarily despoiled himself of the splendor of his divinity (cf. Phil 2:6f) and lived on earth as a poor man—from his birth in poverty in Bethlehem to his death on the cross; sometimes he did not even have the bare necessities of life (cf. Lk 9:58).

“If you do not believe that poverty is enriching,” St John Chrysostom comments, “picture your Lord and you will doubt me no longer. For had he not become poor, you could not have become rich. By a miracle which men cannot understand, poverty has produced these riches—the knowledge of God and godliness, liberation from sin, justification, sanctification, the countless good things which he has bestowed on us and will bestow on us in the future. All those things have accrued to us through his poverty—through his taking our flesh and becoming man and suffering what he suffered. And yet, unlike us, he did not deserve punishment and suffering” (Hom. on 2 Cor, 17).

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Peaceful Resistance

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”
(Matthew 5:38-42)

Scripture Study

5:38 An eye for an eye: Jesus forbids the misuse of Mosaic civil law to justify private vengeance. Exodus 21:24 was meant to limit retribution; it was never an invitation to inflict punishment for personal injuries or extend personal vengeance beyond the injury suffered (cf. Lev 24:20; Deut 19:21). The punishment had to fit the crime but not exceed it. Jesus eliminates such a policy of retaliation from personal life (cf. Rom 12:17).

5:41 if any one forces you: Roman soldiers in NT Palestine reserved the right to recruit and compel Jews into temporary service. Simon of Cyrene was forced under this custom to carry Jesus’ Cross in 27:32. Jesus calls for ungrudging generosity beyond the required call of duty.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ teaching about non-resistance to evil people. We are continually wanting God to behave as we would, that is to say, withdrawing his love from those who don’t deserve it and giving his love to those who do deserve it. But this is just not the way God operates. Why should you pray for someone who is persecuting you? Why shouldn’t you be allowed at least to answer him in kind—an eye for an eye? Because God doesn’t operate that way, and you are being drawn into the divine life.

Why should you turn the other cheek to someone who has struck you? Because it’s practical?! No, because that’s the way God operates, and you’re being called into the divine life. Why should you go beyond simply loving those who love you? Because that’s the way God operates: he loves the saints and he loves the worst of sinners.

Is any of this easy to do? Of course not. Are we able to get to this state through willing it, through earnest practice? Of course not! That’s why love is referred to as a theological virtue. It is the sheerest participation in the divine life, and it can only come from God.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Heavenly Food

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
(John 6:51-58)

Scripture Study

6:51 I shall give: The future tense points both to the Cross, where Jesus surrenders his life for human sins, and to the eucharistic liturgy, where Jesus offers himself as living bread to a starving world.

6:52 his flesh to eat?: The crowd is thinking of cannibalism, i.e., the sin of eating a human corpse, an idea thoroughly repugnant to them (Deut 28:53). This is a misunderstanding. Jesus gives us, not his mortal flesh as it was during his earthly ministry, but his glorified humanity as it was after rising from the dead. This is why he calls himself the “living bread” (6:51).

6:53 eat the flesh … drink his blood: Jesus is speaking literally and sacramentally. If he were speaking metaphorically or figuratively, his words would echo a Hebrew idiom where consuming flesh and blood refers to the brutalities of war (Deut 32:42; Ezek 39:17–18). no life in you: i.e., divine life. ● Drinking the blood of animals is forbidden under the Old Covenant (Gen 9:4; Lev 17:10–13; Deut 12:16). To do so is to consume “life” that is merely natural and of a lower order than human life. Jesus’ injunction does not fall under these prohibitions. The “life” he imparts is not natural but supernatural; it does not pull us down to the level of animals; it elevates us to become sharers in his divine nature (2 Pet 1:4) (CCC 1391).

6:58 will live for ever: The expression occurs rarely in the Bible, only twice in John (6:51, 58) and once in the Greek version of Gen 3:22. ● A comparison is thus implied between the Tree of Life, which bore the fruit of immortality, and the Bread of Life, which tradition calls the “medicine of immortality” (CCC 1331).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel passage is one of the most shocking in the New Testament. Those who heard it were not only repulsed intellectually, they were disgusted, viscerally. For a Jewish man to be insinuating that you should eat his own flesh and drink his blood was about as nauseating and religiously objectionable as you could get.

So what does Jesus do? Does he soften his rhetoric when he hears these reactions? Does he offer a metaphorical or symbolic interpretation? Does he back off? On the contrary, he intensifies what he just said: “Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” As all the scholars point out to us, the verb used here in Greek is trogein, which indicates the way an animal eats.

So what do we do? How should we understand this? If we stand in the great Catholic tradition, we honor these mysterious and wonderful words of Jesus. We resist all attempts to soften them or explain them away or make them easier to swallow. We affirm, with all of our hearts, the doctrine of the real presence.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Impelled by His Love

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
(2 Corinthians 5:14-21)

Scripture Study

5:14 the love of Christ urges us on: The sacrificial love of Christ displayed on the Cross was overwhelming to Paul as it should be to us (Rom 5:8). This same divine love is poured into our hearts through the Spirit (Rom 5:5) and urges us to spread it among others by word and example (Jn 15:12–13) (CCC 851).

5:15 no longer for themselves: Christians are born to a new life of grace that enables them to conquer selfishness and the tendency to live solely for private, personal interests. Purchased for God at the price of Christ’s blood (1 Cor 6:20), believers should strive to live the rest of their days for him (CCC 655, 1269).

5:16 according to the flesh: According to some, this implies that Paul knew the historical Jesus during his earthly ministry. More likely, Paul is claiming that life in the Spirit brings a new perception of things, more penetrating than natural reason (1 Cor 2:12–15). Whereas the crucified Christ appears dead and defeated from a human viewpoint, from a spiritual viewpoint his Cross is a powerful sign of victory and life.

5:17 a new creation: Baptism transfers us from the bondage of sin and slavery to the blessings of salvation and sonship. The New Covenant thus begins a new order in history where creation is steadily renewed, beginning with our souls and extending into every corner of the cosmos (Rom 8:19–25; Rev 21:1–5). Christ does not destroy the old order of creation but heals it, perfects it, and elevates it with supernatural life (CCC 1214, 1265). ● The prophets of Israel envisioned this renewal far in advance of Christ’s coming. Isaiah announced that Yahweh would restore the world, beginning with Israel (Is 42:6–9; 43:18–21; 65:17; 66:22). Other oracles foretold a return to the conditions of creation in Eden before sin and decay entered in (Is 51:3; Ezek 36:33–35).

5:18 ministry of reconciliation: The ministry of the apostles is to reunite the human family with the Father. For this to happen, the barrier of sin that separates them must be torn down by the sacramental and evangelistic actions of the Church (Mt 26:28; Jn 20:23; Acts 2:38) (CCC 981, 1424, 2844).

5:19 not counting their trespasses: Essential to our reconciliation with God but not equivalent to it. Forgiveness, though it includes the nonimputation of sin (Rom 4:6–8), is based on a true removal of guilt (Ps 103:12) by the cleansing power of the Sacraments (Jn 20:23; Acts 22:16; Jas 5:14–15). This is why Paul describes the believer as “a new creation” in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).

5:20 ambassadors: The term refers to envoys who represented Roman emperors in distant territories. These representatives carried the authority of the reigning ruler with them wherever they went. Similarly, Christians in general and the apostles in particular bear, each in their own way, the royal, priestly, and prophetic authority of Christ to the world (Mt 18:18; Rom 15:16; Rev 5:9–10) (CCC 859).

5:21 made him to be sin: Jesus was not made a sinner or personally counted guilty of sin on the Cross. Rather, he bore the curse of death that mankind incurred because of sin (Gal 3:13; 1 Pet 2:22–24), even though he himself knew no sin, i.e., committed no sin (Jn 8:46; 1 Jn 3:5) (CCC 602–3). ● Paul adopts the idiom of the Greek OT, where “sin” is a shorthand expression for a Levitical “sin offering” (Lev 4:21; 5:12; 6:25). Isaiah uses this same language for the suffering Messiah, who was expected to make himself an “offering for sin” (Is 53:10). the righteousness of God: An important expression in Paul’s writings. It can refer (1) to God’s own righteousness that is manifest to the world when he is faithful to his covenants (Rom 3:25–26) and (2) to the gift of righteousness that God imparts to the baptized (Phil 3:9).

Scripture Reflection

“The love of Christ controls us.” With these words, Paul sums up what motivates his tireless apostolic activity—the love of Jesus. The love of Christ should also inspire all other Christians to commit themselves to respond to Christ’s love, and it should fill them with a desire to bring to all souls the salvation won by Christ. It is impossible to live according to the heart of Jesus Christ and not to know that we are sent as the light to the world to bring others to Christ. We need to trust in the mercy of God more and more every day. As a result, we will foster in ourselves a vehement desire to live as co-redeemers with Christ, to save all souls with him.

– St Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

[1] The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 318-320.

New Life In Christ

Brothers and sisters:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the Body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,”
we too believe and therefore speak,
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-15)

Scripture Study

4:7 in earthen vessels: At present, our human bodies are frail and corruptible, like jars made of clay. The difference between earthenware and treasure points to the distinction between the perishable nature of our bodies and the imperishable riches of grace they contain. Paul fills others with this treasure through his ministry of preaching and administering the Sacraments (CCC 1420). ● Paul is using a cultic expression from the OT that refers to the sacred vessels in which sin offerings were cooked (Lev 6:28). In a similar way, we carry the sacrificial “death of Jesus” (2 Cor 4:10) in our suffering bodies.

4:8–11 The grace of apostleship safeguards Paul against despair. Although in constant distress, he is not shattered or overcome by anxiety as a result of it. Hardships conform us to Christ when we follow his example of suffering (Phil 1:29; 1 Pet 2:21), while endurance is inspired by the hope of resurrection (2 Cor 4:14; Heb 11:35).

4:12 but life in you: The sacrifices of Paul are united with the sacrifice of Jesus and, for this reason, unleash the blessings of God (Col 1:24). As Christ’s death brought life to the world, so the apostle’s ministry of daily “dying” becomes a channel of life for others as well.

4:13 I believed, and so I spoke: A citation from the Greek version of Ps 114:7. ● Psalm 116 is a hymn of thanksgiving in which David recalls his faith in Yahweh during times of distress and remembers how he was rescued. Paul and the other apostles share this faith that God will deliver them from mortal dangers—and even death itself—and expect to thank him in return.

Scripture Reflection

St Paul again stresses that the effectiveness of all his apostolic activity comes from God, He it is who places his treasures in poor earthenware vessels. The image the Apostle uses—which is reminiscent of the clay which God used to make Adam, helps Christians realize that through grace they bear in their souls a wonderful treasure, God himself; like earthen vessels they are very fragile and they need to be put together again in the sacrament of Confession.

The Apostle’s words assure the Christian that he or she can always count on God’s help; no matter what trials they must undergo, victory can be attained with the grace of God. Moreover, St Paul’s example reminds us that more or less severe suffering and tribulation will be a normal thing in the lives of Christ’s followers; theirs will never be a comfortable, trouble-free life.

What should inspire all Christians is the firm belief in the resurrection glory, the basis and cause of which is Christ’s. This provides us with the hope of sharing this happiness in heaven, in the presence of God, with all the faithful for whose salvation he is working on earth.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

But I Say

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother,
Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
(Matthew 5:20-26)

Scripture Study

Following Christ’s elucidation of the law, his disciples must pursue a righteousness that surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees. In terms of external obedience to the law’s regulations, the scribes and Pharisees were known as model followers of the Torah. But Jesus’ teaching calls for “a radical interiorization, a total obedience to God, a complete self-giving to neighbor, that carries the ethical thrust of the law to its God-willed conclusion.” Thus the standard of righteousness demanded of disciples goes beyond that of the scribes and Pharisees. It requires much more than external conformity to the law’s regulations. Jesus calls his followers to wholehearted trust and obedience toward the heavenly Father that radiates God’s love to the world.

In the first example, Jesus does not want us merely to avoid killing one another; he calls us to remove the attitudes and actions that lead to killing and, indeed, every obstacle to unconditional love. He quotes the fifth commandment You shall not kill (Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17 LXX), which prohibited murder, not capital punishment or killing in war (Exod 21:12–17; Num 31:3–8). But Jesus goes beyond the letter of the law, calling people to avoid even the kind of anger and critical speech that seeks to wound another person and thus destroys relationships. Whoever is angry with his brother or publicly dishonors him by calling him Raqa (meaning imbecile or idiot) or You fool will face severe punishment. The next two illustrations underscore the importance of not letting anger persist. Jesus addresses the person who is about to offer sacrifice but remembers an unresolved problem in a personal relationship. Jesus says, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother. Spoken in Galilee, this dramatic picture might suggest a Galilean leaving his animal at the altar and going all the way back to his home to be reconciled with his brother before returning to complete the sacrifice. This hyperbole would accentuate the urgency to resolve any tensions in a relationship rather than letting them fester.

With his next illustration, Jesus challenges his disciples to Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. If you succeed in reaching an out-of-court settlement, Jesus suggests, you avoid the risk that the divine judge will render judgment against you. The RSV translates the word for “settle” as “make friends.” Responding to your accuser with anger only increases hostility, but good will and a desire to be reconciled helps restore friendship. The dramatic image of being thrown into prison points to the consequence of not seeking reconciliation with one’s opponents (18:23–25).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel for today is taken from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has established himself symbolically as the new Moses, giving a law upon a mountain. His “you have heard it said, but I say…” has revealed that he has authority even over the Torah. The law is not being abrogated; it is being intensified.

The law was always meant to bring humanity into line with divinity. In the beginning, this alignment was at a fairly basic level. But now that the definitive Moses has appeared, the alignment is becoming absolute, radical, complete.

And so, “You have heard it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” Killing is an action, but that action is rooted in a more fundamental dysfunction: a hateful attitude, a disordered soul, a basic misperception of reality. To be like God utterly, we have to eliminate, obviously, cruel and hateful actions, but we have to go deeper, eliminating cruel and hateful thoughts and attitudes, for God is love, right through.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Fulfillment

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:17-19)

Scripture Study

5:17 Jesus speaks of the law and the prophets, a reference to the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures (see 7:12; 22:40). In saying that he has come not to abolish them, but to fulfill them, he claims to bring to realization all that the Old Testament anticipated. In Matthew the verb “to fulfill” is rarely used in the sense of “to carry out.” Most often it refers to Christ’s bringing Old Testament expectations to fulfillment. Jesus declares that “the law prophesied” (11:13), which implies that the law, like the prophets, pointed ahead to a future fulfillment. Jesus fulfills the law and prophets in one way through his entire life, death, and resurrection, as Matthew’s fulfillment quotations indicate. In another sense Jesus brings the law to fulfillment in his teaching, by showing the kind of life to which the law ultimately pointed (5:17).

5:18–19 “Amen, I say to you” is Jesus’ way of solemnly introducing an authoritative statement. It is used thirty-one times in Matthew. Here, it introduces Jesus’ teaching about the law’s enduring validity. Jesus sees himself and his teaching as being in continuity with Israel’s religious heritage. As 5:21–48 will make clear, Jesus is the authoritative interpreter of the Torah, transcending some traditional understandings of the law and revealing that to which the law was ultimately directed. He explains that true faithfulness to God’s underlying purpose for the law sometimes demands an interiorizing of the legal precepts without diminishing their literal force (5:21–30). Sometimes faithfulness to God’s purpose requires following a higher standard than is expressed in the law—a standard that reflects God’s ultimate intention for his people (5:31–37). It even demands setting aside one’s rights under the law (5:38–42) in order to practice charity in imitation of the Father (5:43–48). In sum, the law itself is not abolished but its role changes as Christ brings forth its deeper meaning. It is in this sense that the smallest letter of the law remains until heaven and earth pass away and until all things have taken place. The law retains its status as God’s revealed word, and one must continue to teach and obey these commandments (5:19). But disciples must now follow the law in light of Christ’s authoritative interpretation.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in our Gospel today, Jesus declares that he would not undermine the Law and the Prophets, but fulfill them. Jesus himself was an observant Jew, and the themes and images of the Holy Scriptures were elemental for him.

But what is going to fulfill? Protestant theologian N.T. Wright has pointed out that the Old Testament is essentially an unfinished symphony, a drama without a climax. It is the articulation of a hope, a dream, a longing—but without a realization of that hope, without a satisfaction of that longing. Israel knew itself to be the people with the definite mission to become holy and thereby to render the world holy. But instead, Israel fell into greater and greater sins, and instead of being the catalyst for the conversion of the world, the world was continually overwhelming and enslaving Israel.

And then came Jesus, who turned out to be, in the most unexpected way, the fulfillment of the dream. From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus affected the gathering of the tribes of Israel through conversion and the forgiveness of sins.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

A Light to the World

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”
(Matthew 5:13-16)

Scripture Study

5:13–14 Two illustrations show that disciples must be true to their calling lest they render themselves useless for the kingdom. Being the salt of the earth, they are to season and preserve the world with peace (Mk 9:50) and gracious speech (Col 4:5). Being the light of the world, they are to bear witness to Jesus and his message (Jn 1:9; 8:12). ● Both images have links with the OT. Salt is associated with the covenant of priesthood made with Aaron and his descendants (Num 18:19) as well as the covenant of kingship made with David and his descendants (2 Chron 13:5). Light is associated with the OT vocation of Israel to make the truth and justice of God shine out to all nations (Is 42:6; 49:6).

5:14 a city set on a hill: An allusion to Jerusalem on Mt. Zion. It is a visible sign of the eternal city that awaits the saints in heaven (Gal 4:26; Heb 12:22; Rev 21:2).

5:16 your Father: Earlier chapters make no mention of the Fatherhood of God. In the Sermon on the Mount, however, Jesus calls God “Father” a total of 17 times (chaps. 5–7). ● God’s Fatherhood is the deepest mystery of his identity; from eternity he fathers a divine Son (Jn 1:1), and throughout history he adopts us as his children in Christ (Jn 1:12; Gal 4:4–7).

Scripture Reflection

In the face of the many problems in the world—violence, materialism, poverty, moral relativism—Jesus challenges us to ask, “What can I do to share God’s love in the world?” Christians are called to be light to the world, and the world will be impacted for better or for worse by the way we live our lives. When we as Christians fail to be saints, when we fail to live the beatitudes and be light, the world suffers. But when we imitate Christ’s love, mercy, and generosity, the world will see our good deeds and glorify our heavenly Father.

St. John Chrysostom invites us to ponder what the world would be like if the entire Christian community lived in imitation of Christ: “Assuredly, there would be no heathen, if we Christians took care to be what we ought to be; if we obeyed God’s precepts, if we bore injuries without retaliation, if when cursed we blessed, if we rendered good for evil. For no man is so savage a wild beast that he would not run forthwith to the worship of the true religion, if he saw all Christians acting as I have said.”

– Curtis Mitch

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.