Word for Word 2/26/20

Msgr. Ed Lechtenberg
Msgr. Ed Lechtenberg

For your meditation: Matthew 5:17-37

This reading comes from “The Sermon on the Mount.” In today’s section, Jesus begins by saying that He has not come to change the law that Moses gave to them on Mt. Sinai. He has not come to do away with it or even to change it. His purpose, He says, is to bring it to its fulfillment. He also points out that the Scribes and Pharisees who are tough, strict, law and order types of people are wrong.

After this introduction, Jesus goes on to give four examples of what he is talking about. They are murder, adultery, divorce and false witness. In each of the four examples, Jesus pushes us back behind the deeds themselves to their motives, and the attitudes that make the external sins become realities.

Behind the murder is hate and anger gone out of control. Behind the adultery is lust without any control. Behind the false witness is distrust and suspicion gone out of control.

In order to be happy, integrated people, we need to control our emotions. This does not mean that we deny our emotions. We do have emotions and they include hate, anger, lust and suspicion.

To have these emotions, to experience the feel of them is not sinful but to let them take over our lives, that is sinful. So, if we are going to avoid committing murder, we shouldn’t let hate and anger run our lives. And people do this when they hang on to resentments and feuds.

If we are going to avoid adultery, we should not let the feeling of lust control us. You should probably make the connection between sex and married love a lot more important than the connection between sex and physical pleasure.

If you are going to avoid divorce you should nurture your marriage, making it stronger and more important to you. Personnally practice the three Cs that can help facilitate a strong marriage: Committment, Communication and Christ.

“A new commandment. I save you, love one another as I have loved you.” Complete, unselfish, unconditional love. Your marriage is your vocation.

If we are going to avoid telling lies, we should value truth and honesty. We should not let distrust and suspicion control our behavior.

Looking at the whole of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is not making more rules and regulations. Instead He is instructing us on how to avoid the sins that cause us to be unhappy.

Again, it is the stuff in our hearts that makes the real difference. If we work hard to establish peace, justice, love and honesty, then we are living according to the teachings of Jesus, the good news.

But if we think we can have attitudes and intentions of hatred, resentment, lust and deceit, then we are not following the teachings of Jesus. Then we are not choosing life and happiness. Then we are choosing death and unhappiness.

A Catholic priest was walking down an alley one evening on his way home. A young man came down the alley behind him and said, “This is a stick-up, give me your money.” The priest opened his jacket and reached into an inner pocket to remove his wallet, exposing his clerical collar. The young man said, “Oh, I’m sorry, Father,” “I didn’t see your collar. I don’t want your money.”  Trembling from the scare, the priest removed a cigar from his shirt pocket and offered it to the young man and said, “Here, have a cigar.” The young man replied, “Oh, no, I can’t do that.  I gave them up for Lent.”

Msgr. Ed Lechtenberg

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