by Rev. Fr. V. C. Jose Chemmanam, Singapore
4th Sunday after the Dormition (Assumption) of St. Mary
Gospel reading St. Mathew 5 : 38 Ė 48
1) This Bible lesson is a portion of the Sermon on the Mount. In the Sermon on the Mount we find a design for life in the Kingdom of God. The outline of this design has been preserved for us by Mathew chapters 5 to 7 and Luke Chapter 6 verses 20 to 49. It is an exposition of Christian ethics and in it we find a New Righteousness of the Kingdom which exceeds the righteousness of the Old testament.
2) The gospel lesson speaks about some of the out workings of the life in the kingdom. The will of God had been revealed to the men of old order but their apprehension had been imperfect. So Jesus sets forth the way of life demanded for those who live under the new order of the kingdom. In the new life, not only murder, adultery, perjury and revenge have no place but also evil passions which inspire them Ė anger, lust, swearing and the wish to retaliate Ė have no place.
3) A limited vengeance was permitted in the old order. An eye for an eye (Ex 21:23-25) is outmoded and transcended by forgiving love, a love that goes out, beyond neighbors, even to enemies, a love as catholic as the love of God himself. Here Jesus does not recommend a negative factor of non-resistance rather positive good in the face of evil.
Eg.- When one is insulted (struck on one cheek) one is to offer the other cheek as an act of love. It is not normal human reaction but to challenge the aggressor by Grace rather than by retaliation.
- When one is sued for the basic covering of the body, COAT, he should offer as well the outer CLOAK, the expensive garment, which protected against sun, cold and rain. Again this contradicts the ordinary human reaction, a gracious act as against harsh treatment and show of coercive force.
4) The high point of the sermon is reached when we read the words on Love of enemies. We must treat others as God treats us - with mercy and compassion. Jesus' moral appeal is grounded in nothing less than the nature of God himself. Those who obey him are to seek to become like him, to become Godís sons.
In Hebrew thinking, to be a son of someone is to resemble him in his manner of life. As Godís children we must adopt a new goal and mode of life patterned after the nature of God himself - instead of the ordinary pattern of human behavior, which is to love oneís friend and hate enemy.
There is no parallel for Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors in the Old Testament. And Jesus love appeal is on the basis of Godís love. He sends rain and causes the sun to rise on all persons regardless of their moral worth. Even the gentiles and the tax collectors love and treat their friends kindly. So when Jesus designed a life in the kingdom the out workings should be extra ordinary, nothing less than Godís own way of working is the ultimate standard.
Let us thank and praise Jesus for his extra ordinary ways and designs of his kingdom and let us follow those standards with utmost care and sincerity in our private, public life and in all our intentions and expressions.
MAY GOD BLESS ALL OF US.
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