The Heart of the Beatitudes – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In 2018, Pope Francis wrote his encyclical “Gaudete et Exultate” (Rejoice and Be Glad). Its text is not doctrinal and its style is non-academic because this letter simply wants to “re-propose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time.” Through it, he emphasizes that following Christ is “a way of life,” not an intellectual exercise. In the third chapter of this encyclical, the Pope presents the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus spoke about the Beatitudes presenting them as “the Christians’ identity card.” These Beatitudes are the secret of how we can follow Jesus concretely and live his gospel even today.
Today’s gospel reading (Mt. 5:17-37) presents to us a portion of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus teaches his disciples the “new commandment.” He makes it clear that he is not abolishing Moses’ Decalogue; in fact, he fulfills them. Moreover, he actually gives God’s commandments a new spirit, a new understanding and a new fervor in applying them in life. For Jesus, obeying the law is not a matter of external observance. There must be the spirit of love and faith as the reason behind its observance. One does not automatically gain God’s favor by fulfilling a set of practices. Instead, we become holy by living our lives with love and witnessing God’s goodness in everything we do. Jesus wants us to live our lives with intentionality.
What makes the commandment pleasing to God is the heart with which we do it. It is in and from the heart that the commandments blossoms and bears fruit. Thus, it is not enough that we do not kill. Jesus wants us to choose the way of peace and compassion by practicing self-control over our anger. Holiness means, forgiving despite the hurt. On the issue of adultery, Jesus wants married persons to choose fidelity in relationships. The challenge is always to be true to God, to ourselves and to others. This is the radical way of life that Jesus invites us.
Prayer: Lord, may I follow your commandments not out of obligation, but with the intention of loving you whole-heartedly. Amen.
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