Homily – Fr. Carlos – 2/16/20

At first glance it must have been confusing to Jesus’ listeners and his disciples what they heard Jesus say.  It would make the impression that Jesus is just one of the Pharisees and the Scribes who insists on the law to govern their life and, at this point, if not understood well, it could mean a life more stringent because of what Jesus said.  It is reminiscent of what Peter said: who then can be saved when Jesus said that it will be easier to enter the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter heave.  But after his insistence that the law should be obeyed in its iota, they must have been more flabbergasted when Jesus said that their righteousness should surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees.  Is this the master who said his yoke is easy and his burden light.  Then Jesus continued saying that whoever is angry at his brother and call him fool is like killing forbidden by the 5th commandment, and therefore deserves the fiery Gehenna.  You cannot offer your gift at the altar if you remember that your brother has something against you, and you cannot even look at a woman with lust in your mind and that would be equivalent to adultery.  They are not even allowed to swear.  No divorce – whereas Moses allowed it. You could imagine how with open mouth they listened to Jesus and when they have recovered from the shock, life as they understood it, will be even more burdensome.  It is as if they could no longer breathe with the demands of the law guarded strictly by the pharisees and scribes and now the master telling us that we have to be better than the pharisees and scribes in obeying the commandments.  Life was like a straight jacket.  Their righteousness should even surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees.  In short, as they understood it, they should out shine them in faithfully following the Law.  Where is the Jesus whose  yoke easy and his burden light.  It is in the understanding of his counterpoints to the Law which the Scribes and Pharisees strictly adhere to.  It is a gradual revelation to the disciples of who Jesus was and his persevering effort to reveal who God really is.  The laws require the minimum – don’t break it.  The law decides if there is any transgression committed or not.  Jesus is saying that his commandment is to have respect, love, mercy and justice for one another.  Do not relegate your brother or sister to the extreme boundaries of your life or do not write him or her off as if they were dead.  It is equivalent to killing your brother or sister.   Relationship is not a legal matter.  At the core of human relationship is the fundamental truth that all are children of God.  The law does not mend relationships.  It decides who is right or wrong and the wrong must suffer the consequence of his actions.  The one offering the gift on the altar might just have won a case against his brother, but he cannot offer his gift if he knows his brother has anything against him.   Animosity remains even if so called justice is rendered.  Jesus’ disciples’ righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and pharisees because theirs is concerned with people, who are their brothers and sisters.    The P&S  are more concerned with the law as such.  They would tell Jesus that the Sabbath is more important than healing the sick.  It surpasses understanding, mercy and forgiveness.  P. and S. Are not concerned about mending relationships at all.  The woman was caught in the act of adultery therefore the law must be followed.  The Law does not promise hope nor future beyond human weakness and sin.  It simply metes out punishment and condemnation.  The is the burden of the law.  And the law can be manipulated as the common folks know even today.  The rich and powerful can make the law work on their favor.  Their righteousness must surpass that of the P. and S. because Jesus followers see others as God’s children as they themselves are too.  The law must do everything to help God’s children to have hope and confidence in God..  The Law of Jesus is love and this is the primary law, the normative law of every other laws.  To love God and neighbor fulfills all laws of Moses.  The law was power in the hands of the P. & S.  They interpret what they have added to the Laws of Moses.   It is one of control and not service.  For the spiritually astute, one could see Jesus preparing them to see his true relationship with God.  He was revealing the heart of God especially to the breakers of the law.  Jesus in the  eyes of the P&S was a breaker of the law, especially of the Sabbath, of his disciples disregarding the washing of hands, of associating with sinners tax collectors and let himself be touched by an ill-repute woman.  In short, to have the heart of Jesus, is to have the heart of God in relating to sinners.  There is no judgment, no condemnation.  So it is a lesson even for us today that those who live by the law will die by the law for in itself it does not give life.  The spirit of the law gives life.  What is the spirit of the law: the law gives way to love, for everyone are children of God.  Jesus said: on these two laws hang all the commandments and prophets.  It understands the sinner but not condone to the sin.  It is not a question of  sinners responding to our teachings or invitation to be upright.  The law of Jesus and his Father is that the very core of your being must have the heart of Jesus and His Father.  You never should condemn.  It is the sinner who condemns himself if he decides to stay away from God.  The P. & S.  Have this illusion that their righteousness makes sinners change.  Have you ever seen anyone whose rigid adherence to the rules make him or her attractive and convincing.  Jesus, the righteous on the cross was mocked by many. The P. & S.  the champions of the law were among the crowd that mocked Jesus.  This is a cautionary advice for the self righteous people.  Beware, that you look down on your brother or sister  because they do not keep the law as faithfully as you do.  As Gamaliel said: You might find yourself going against God.