Zeal that is unflagging, consuming and consummating
Jesus, like his Father, is the source and summit of all righteousness. He fulfills the law and the prophets. And his zeal proves him in this respect.
First, his zeal for God and for the law and the prophets consumes Jesus. This zeal shows, of course, in his cleansing of the temple. But it is most evident in his fulfillment of his mission. One can sum up thus his fulfillment: “He goes around to all towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and announcing the Gospel. He cures, besides, every disease and illness among the people.”
Secondly, Jesus reveals his zeal as he consummates his obedience. That is to say, he carries out fully his commitment to hear, keep and teach Scriptures.
With his zeal devouring him, Jesus does not settle for the minimum demands of the law. He makes sure that one fulfills to the maximum all that the Scriptures require. And what is insignificant has enormous consequence in the kingdom of God.
Hence, Jesus deems liable to judgment not only murderers but also those who are angry with their own kin. Insults, malicious speech and all alienation are equally punishable. Though they may not lead to physical death, these transgressions can still cause some form or other of death.
And one, while not in good terms with another, takes part in the liturgy, only makes loathsome his participation. He undermines the liturgy, which is the work of the community.
One shall not commit adultery. But Jesus deepens the commandment. He forbids covetous looks. He wants us to be clean of heart, incapable of reducing women to mere sexual objects.
Jesus does not find sufficient the minimum protection that the law gives to a divorced woman. It is better that a husband does not endanger the dignity of his wife. Society should give women the same respect it gives to men.
Jesus demands, too, that we neither take false oaths nor renege on our commitments. But he further expects our utterances to be guileless. And really, only those whose words give them away need to curse and swear.
Jesus ushers in the new covenant: “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts.” The only thing missing for the completion of what he has ushered in is our zeal. And the truly zealous are neither lazy nor so indiscreet that they over-work. Such indiscretion “leads to discouragement, anger with those who work less, resentment, and finally apathy.”
In maximum compliance with the word of God, Jesus loved to the end. Such is the righteousness that surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees.
Lord, grant us to proclaim your kingdom and your righteousness by the witness of our lives.
12 February 2017
6th Sunday in O.T. (A)
Sir 15, 16-21; 1 Cor 2, 6-10; Mt 5, 17-37