On this last Sunday before Lent, we come to the climax of the “antitheses” in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. It is a fitting prelude to the penitential season in preparation for and remembrance of baptism.
Today, Jesus invites us to go deeper into two more commandments pertaining to how we treat adversaries, enemies, strangers, and people who simply challenge us. Unlike last week’s passage, however, Jesus gives us a different approach to the law, one that calls for both restraint and generosity of spirit, for that is how our Father in heaven is with us.Jesus gives us a different approach to the law, one that calls for both restraint and generosity of spirit, for that is how our Father in heaven is with us. Click To Tweet
By law, one may deserve punishment, but the Father does not deal with us according to our sins, as the psalmist today proclaims. By law, one might be entitled to a limited portion or minimal response, but the Father goes further and “crowns [us] with kindness and compassion” (Ps 103:4). To this kind of perfect love have we been called.
Scripture scholar Eric Barreto says it well:
In the end, to what are these commandments calling us? Not to a checklist of morality but to a flourishing of life. Not to a baseline of decency but to an embodied, relational, transformative encounter with all whom we meet. Not to a sufficient set of hurdles for righteousness but to a path of wholeness with creature and creator alike. (workingpreacher.org)
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”