During these Sundays before the Lenten Season, we read the Gospel of Matthew and it focuses on the major teachings of Jesus which are contained in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is presented as the New Moses but greater than Moses because He himself is the Giver of the Law. He is the Wisdom of God, the Logos, the Word, the way of eternal insight. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He comes so that we will have complete joy and fullness of life, life in abundance. The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes which are the attitudes, virtues and values based on love and will lead us to the kingdom. By living the Beatitudes, we become truly beautiful within. Jesus said, “I did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). The Law in Hebrew is Torah which refers to the first five books of the Hebrew Testament namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
Jesus is a devoted Jew and He respects the Law. In fact, He is the Torah himself made flesh. He fulfills the Law because He brings it to perfection and completion. The extraordinary and the great fulfillment of the Law lie not in the teaching but in the Teacher himself. Jesus showed radical obedience to the Father, manifested the holiness of God and established communion between God and man. He did not only teach the Law but he lived it himself. His whole life was the fulfillment and the perfection of the Law. He gave the right interpretation of the Law emphasizing the Spirit of the law rather than the letter. He brought the Law into the deep recesses of the human heart. He emphasized the interiority and radical response out of love. St. Paul said, “Love is the fullness of the law.” Jesus showed that in his life and revealed it clearly on the Cross. When Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors but I say to you” (Mt 5:21), He affirmed his divinity, His full divine authority.
Hence, we are called to listen to Him because He is God himself speaking to us. When He said, “Whoever is angry with his brother is liable to judgment,” He is telling us that there should be no hostility between human beings. We are called to be active agents of reconciliation because evil resides in our hearts. Human lust is the root of adultery. “For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, sexual sins, blasphemy, greed, envy” (Mt 15:19) Jesus tells us not to swear at all because a true Christian is totally honest, transparent and truthful in all things. A true disciple is a reliable person and has nothing to hide. He said, “Let your Yes mean Yes and your No mean No. Anything more is from the evil one” (Mt 5:37). God is not responsible for our sin, for it comes from human choice alone. Therefore, we are called to be open to the Spirit of God who alone can recreate, transform and bring us to new life.