2Cor 3:15-4:1, 3-6; Ps 85:9ab, 10-14; Mt 5:20-26
If glory dwells in our land, the Holy Spirit is near indeed. It is the Lord himself who gives his benefits, and our land shall yield its increase. The blessings of peace and justice come into our world when we walk along the way of His steps. When we walk the way of the cross, we walk the way Jesus walked on the face of the earth. When we do not “walk on by” those who need our service, then does kindness and truth meet, only then does justice look down from heaven. This is the freedom we read about in Second Corinthians, the freedom of those who gaze upon the unveiled face of Christ, and are being transformed from glory to glory. Then, and only then, will our righteousness surpass those who gladly look good without doing much good.
Second Corinthians describes a veil that lies over the hearts of the children of Israel. Originally that veil was over the face of Moses so that the people would not be overwhelmed. Originally that veil separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the sanctuary. Now, the children of Israel are separated from the true meaning and original purpose of God’s revelation to Moses: “I AM who I AM, for you.” Anyone who turns to the Lord for mercy has that veil removed and can gaze with unveiled face upon the glory of the Lord. Anyone who turns away from darkness, anyone who is healed of blindness, anyone who believes the good news of “God For Us” and “God With Us” in Jesus Christ the Lord is being transformed from glory to glory. It is this transformation, which makes us the good news we preach, as we become slaves of all in need. Like the early Pauline communities we are slaves for the sake of Jesus who has set us free from the “god of this age.” As the Living and True God is for us in Christ, so we become for others by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ shines brightly in this section of the Sermon of the Mount. In a direct teaching to his disciples Jesus is clear about true holiness, about how to enter into the Kingdom of heaven here on earth. Just as the veil separated and divided the holy from the less than holy, so too, the preaching of the Lord Jesus cuts through the bone and the marrow. Living in the bright glory of the Holy Spirit means we must go beyond the minimal requirements taught by our ancestors. It’s not enough to avoid killing a brother or sister. We cannot even allow anger against a brother or sister to rule in our hearts. Even verbal abuse has no place among the disciples of the Lord Jesus. Finally, our worship, our sacrifice, our offering, is not acceptable until we seek to be reconciled with anyone who has anything against us. There is an urgency to settle our disputes outside of court lest we scandalize anyone or give a false witness to those who seek the Lord. Such a gospel life-style is only possible because we are nourished with the Body and Blood of Christ as we walk along the way of his steps.