A Homily – Matthew 5: 38 – 48 ©

The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.02.19

 

 

The Law of Human Making

 

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.

 

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

 

 

The Law of Divine Aspiration

 

The old law was the law of retribution. There was no room for mercy in it. Whether you do good deeds or bad deeds you are paid back in kind. You are paid back in equal measure.

 

Most of the religious systems in the world are based on this concept. The laws of Karma from the Hindu system, being the most highly articulated and widely conceptualized.

 

Every religion that points its believers to some kind of afterlife, has some variant of a mythology that shows the individual adherent being weighed or measured, on the scales of justice, before receiving their eternal reward.

 

In the aforementioned, Hindu system of beliefs, the individual remains on the wheel of life until the scales are balanced, and then they are released.

 

The Jains, the Sikhs, the Baha’i, they all imagine something very much the same. They imagine that the soul enters the world in a state of purity and light, but life in the flesh entangles them in the dirty business of existence. They become soiled. The task then is to move toward the light, avoiding all things that contaminate the soul. Until, at the end they are once again burning pure and bright.

 

The old law was a law of retribution.

 

It was one stage better than the law of terror which read:

 

Not an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but a head for an eye and a tribe for a head.

 

The law of the divine way, is the law of mercy. To sacrifice is to forgive, that is the path to holiness.

 

Jesus taught this, go beyond what is ordinary, surpass the conventions, teach love and mercy, by being loving and merciful, even to those you would shun or fear.

 

This is the way and there is no other.

 

Both Jesus and the Buddha believed that a person could balance the scales in a moment. It did not take lifetimes, we are not in bondage to our past, to our history to our station, tour ancestry. We are good when we are doing good, burning with the bright light, when we burn with the light of compassion.

 

When we choose the divine way, we are free, at least for a moment, for that moment we are free.

 

 

7th Sunday of Ordinary Time

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