11 February 2017


sirach 15:15-20; 1 corinthians 2:6-10; matthew 5:17-37

there were two junior executives in a company. both were diligent workers. one always went by the book and never erred. the other didn’t always follow the book, and sometimes made mistakes. when there was an opening for a senior executive position, the managing director promoted the second exec.
mr by-the-book was enraged and questioned a director about the decision! he always followed the book; he never made mistakes; he had a better record. the director replied: «yes. but what will you do when something comes up that isn’t in the book? you know the rules. he knows our rationale; he understands the mind of the directors.»

it’s not enough to go by the book. often in life—and always in the christian life—we need to go beyond the book. that’s the bottom line of today’s scripture.
it is not enough to keep the law; one needs to fulfil it, and live in communion with GOD and neighbour. it is not enough that one’s actions are correct; one’s attitude must also be correct. jesus challenges his disciples to surpass the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees.
he does this through six antitheses (four in today’s text) which have the form «it was said… but i say to you.» disciples must not only 
a) avoid murder but also avoid all attitudes and behaviour that inappropriately express anger and disrespect; 
b) avoid adultery but also have hearts free of lust;
c) avoid divorce but also remain faithful to the marriage covenant;
c) avoid false oaths but also avoid oaths (an oath calls on GOD to witness to the truth of one’s statement).

it’s not enough to know and keep the rules. we need to know the rationale for the rules and keep their spirit. we need to know why we are disciples and who we should be… by knowing JESUS, putting on his mind, and living his values. 
am i ready to go beyond «the book»? am i ready to imitate the ONE who came to «fulfil the law»?