To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected – Much Is Required

'Lost and Found' by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission.
“Lost and Found” by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission.

November 20, 2022

June 10, 2021

Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother,
Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

To whom much is given, much is expected – much is required.

I love how Jesus isn’t concerned about hurting someone’s feelings. He just comes out and says what he means.

He is saying today that being “good enough” isn’t good enough. Telling his apostles that if “our” righteousness doesn’t exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, we won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

He acknowledges the good of the Scribes and Pharisees but tells us that our goodness, our righteousness can’t stop where their goodness ends. For the Pharisees and Scribes it is about following the law as it is laid out and loving God. They are good at that – very righteous.

Jesus told us last week it’s not just about loving God. When the scribe asked him, what is the greatest of all the Commandments he said that we are to love the Lord, our God, with all that we are – all of our being. But remember he quickly gave another Commandment – to love our brothers and sisters as we love ourselves.

Today is a reminder once more of that Gospel.

Jesus harkens back to the Old Testament and the 10 Commandments – he says the ancestors were told not to kill. But Jesus says we aren’t even supposed to be angry.

Why? Because if we allow ourselves to be angry then it becomes easier to be in a place where we justify killing another.

He describes how we aren’t to demean others because we could be called before the World’s law – the Sanhedrin. He goes even further saying if we call someone a fool then we are liable to the fires of Gehenna. Jesus was a master of hyperbole. Simply calling another a fool isn’t what gets you thrown into Gehenna – it is the lack of love for another – a lack of caring for someone not ourselves.

Our deacon in training, Tim Wells, was telling me a story of a family he is friends with. Their 18-year-old newly graduated daughter was riding her bike home from her Lifeguard job when she was struck and killed by a vehicle. A few days prior, she had asked her father, “Why don’t holy people act holy?”

Why don’t we? Aren’t we holy? Why don’t we act holy? Jesus, today, is telling us to act Holy.

For you husbands and wives, it is a hard and fast rule you don’t let the sun set on your anger. We must love one another. Treat each other with respect. If we don’t, if we don’t settle our differences, ask for forgiveness, then we are taken before the judge (God) and we will be handed over to the jailor and won’t be getting out until we have atoned for all our sins.

Do me a favor. As you leave here make sure you love – not just God – but also your brothers and sisters.

At least that’s what I heard Him say…

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