2Cor 5:14-21; Ps 103:1-4; 9-12; Mt 5:33-37
We join in praying the Psalm; we join in blessing the LORD and never forgetting all his benefits. From his throne above all other thrones, the LORD judges, and his judgment is mercy. The LORD, who rules over all, offers all his pardon and his mercy. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our transgressions from us.” This is the kind of mercy that Saint Paul proclaims for all the nations; even though it’s not his experience of justice in this world. We who are baptized into the YES of Christ seek to bring his mercy and justice into to our lives so that we can transform the world in which we live and move and have our being. Let us never forget all the benefits that come to us every time we celebrate the Eucharist.
Once our hearts have heard the summons to holiness, and becoming a saint is our goal. At that moment, the love of Christ impels us to live no longer for ourselves but for him who for our sake died and was raised. Then we become like Mary Immaculate and all the saints; then our hearts have no more room for sin. We are so consumed with the presence and power of Our Lord Jesus Christ that indeed we are ambassadors for Christ. God, as it were, is appealing through us. Appealing to every person we meet: “turn from sin and believe the good news!” Our blessed Lord wanted to be with us so completely that “for our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin.” The Lord Jesus willingly identified himself with us so completely that he felt what it is like to be a sinner, alone, feeling abandoned by the Father—so he cried out from the cross: “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus never sinned, but he was made sin. This marvelous exchange took place so that we might become the very holiness of God. No matter what we suffer, even the alienation of sin, it is never true for us to say, “Lord, you don’t know what it’s like.” We can never complain, “Lord, you have no idea how difficult it is to overcome sin! To have a heart so filled with the warmth and light of this mystery is to love the One who first loved us.
In this chapter of Saint Matthew’s Gospel, the New Moses is still teaching on the mount of the beatitudes. The Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of all the prophets of old; he is the Word of God, made flesh, that was preached by all who came before him in the power and spirit of Elijah. To his disciples, to those who would carry that word into the future, the Lord Jesus teaches what no prophet had said before. Quoting from the revealed Word of God the Lord Jesus makes new and seemingly impossible demands upon all who would be his disciples. The Lord reminds his listeners that their ancestors commanded them not to take a false oath, but to be faithful to their vows. A vow or an oath was a commitment reinforced by calling upon the power of God’s Name. Anyone who called God to witness to the truth was expected to be speaking the truth. If he was not speaking truth, the LORD was called to do “thus and so” to the oath maker. He was making a covenant, and unfaithfulness had dire consequences. The Lord Jesus teaches that swearing by heaven, or earth, or Jerusalem is not in our power because these belong to God and not to us. We cannot use what does not belong to us to guarantee our honesty. Even our own head and every hair upon it belongs not to us but to God. So we cannot swear by our head. Rather, we are to speak from the truth of who we are. We are to give our yes to the Lord’s will and our no to the Evil One. Such honesty alone hastens the coming of the Kingdom of God. Such honesty is impossible without total abandonment to the LORD. Jesus the Christ is the definitive “yes” of the Father and in him we can speak with absolute honesty in all our relationships. Only this kind of honesty will create trust in the human family, among the sons and daughters of the Father.