We come to a section of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount that scholars call the “antitheses,” marked by the rhetorical pattern, “You have heard that it was said … But I say to you….” It may seem that Jesus is replacing the law and tradition with a new teaching. But his introduction to these antitheses is important. Jesus does not abolish the law but calls us to follow it to its letter, striving even to surpass the scribes and Pharisees in observing it.
I can hear liturgical rubricists and proponents of “do the red, say the black” rejoicing! But before we get too carried away, let’s go deeper—which is exactly Jesus’s point. Following the rules is essential. However, true righteousness must go even further—much further, to the relationships underlying the law.Following the rules is essential. However, true righteousness must go even further—much further, to the relationships underlying the law. Click To Tweet
As disciples of Christ, we are called to do more than just follow the law, whether liturgical, moral, or civil. We can’t just avoid breaking them or going over a line. We must look at the people affected by these laws, rubrics, and guidelines and discern if our entire being and orientation of life—our thoughts, words, choices, and actions—reflect how God sees them.
If not, then we need to put down our hymnals and well-crafted homilies and go and repair those relationships. Then come back and praise God as best we can.