“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No” mean ‘No.”
Jesus calls us to lead lives of integrity where we follow not only the letter of the law but, more important, its spirit. In today’s Gospel-lesson He says that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He breathed spirit into words that remained on the page for many people. He led by example and followed what was passed down through the centuries, in the worship laws of the Jewish Torah. He used an interesting technique by quoting scripture [‘you have heard it said’] and then offering a practical insight [‘But I say to you’] into its application. Jesus was stressing that until we enliven the words of our scriptures and traditions, they remain just empty words with no actions to back them up. What He taught is that although He indeed embodied the wisdom of God and was the fulfillment of the law, that we could share this same blessing by allowing ourselves to be led to the ‘fullness of life’. As the Messiah of Gods mighty Kingdom, it was His role to get people to not only observe but live the spirit of Gods laws and commands. He led by example and many followed Him wholeheartedly and many just paid Him and the Law “lip service.”
This gospel-teaching will be a challenge for anyone who either preaches about it this weekend (me) or really tries to apply the divine laws into their everyday lives (you). That’s what we are supposed to do, live the spirit of the law and do it joyfully. In my reading of what one preacher says that he will try to do, he says to select one of the issues in the present text [anger, adultery, divorce, swearing of oaths] since they address the life of Christian conduct. Even though these texts are sharp and unbending in form, there is perhaps merit in such an option, particularly in a world where the practice of Christians can sometimes hardly be distinguished from that of non-Christians. There it is! the world constantly wants to rob us of our attention to Gods ways and tempt us with the ways of the world, the incomplete and not so good ways! Living a faithful Christian life is not any easier for us than it was for those original followers of Jesus. We all must make a conscious decision to give expression to what we say that we follow and believe. I am not telling you what to do as much as inviting you, like Jesus, to consider what shape your commitment to Him will take. The Holy Spirit must find a resting place within you that is both welcoming and peaceful. Oftentimes the followers of Jesus, as well as His adversaries, had closed minds and hearts. When He encountered this then a lot of time had to be given to winning them over, clearing the way, and assuring them that what He was presenting was according to the will of the Father. He did say that He was not to about to abolish any laws but to fulfill them. Let’s take Jesus at His word and understand that He is just trying to make our path to God a bit easier. The scriptures, the church, and the believing community should assist us in growing in our faith and not be obstacles to it. Gods law must not be a matter of external actions and devoid of an internal commitment and behavior. Our Responsorial Psalm#119 summarizes what we need to ‘take away’ from our scripture lessons… “Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!” St. Paul follows this up with more inspiring words, “what God has prepared for those who love Him, this God has revealed through the Spirit. Be open, be trusting, and you will not be disappointed.
Say yes and mean it. And stay away from saying no, especially to God.