In today's Gospel, which is from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urges us to take it up a notch. We Christians, the followers of Jesus, have much greater gifts than our Jewish ancestors, and therefore, we have much greater responsibilities. Jesus begins with a statement that would have been rather shocking to His audience: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” The scribes and Pharisees were supposed to be the holiest of the Jews, the ones who paid close attention to the Law and followed its precepts meticulously. Jesus' hearers must have exchanged nervous glances and wondered how in the world they could be holier and more righteous than their leaders.
Jesus proceeds to tell them. First, He states a well-known law: “You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.” Then He takes it up notch: “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.” In other words, those who harbor anger in their souls, hold grudges, and insult people are also sinning, for they are not acting out of love. Jesus continues this pattern as He teaches about lust, divorce, oaths, vengeance, and love of enemies. He isn't abolishing God's moral law. He's setting a higher standard of love.
Friday – The Sacred Heart of Jesus
On this Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us remember that Jesus' Heart burns with love for us. Jesus said to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, “Behold the Heart which has so loved men that It has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify Its love; and in return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt they have for Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what I feel most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me, that treat Me thus. Therefore, I ask of you that the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special Feast to honor My Heart, by communicating on that day, and making reparation to It by a solemn act, in order to make amends for the indignities which It has received during the time It has been exposed on the altars. I promise you that My Heart shall expand Itself to shed in abundance the influence of Its Divine Love upon those who shall thus honor It, and cause It to be honored.” Today, then, let us comfort and honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus by an outpouring of love and adoration.
Saturday – A New Creation
“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” So says St. Paul in today's first reading from the Second Letter to the Corinthians. God has done something totally new. Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, became incarnate among us as a man while still remaining God. He suffered and died for us. He conquered death and rose again. He opened the gates of Heaven. He has changed the world. What's more, He has changed us. He makes us new. When we are baptized, something changes in us, something real, something very important. God's indwelling presence surges into our souls, and God marks us with a character that can never be erased. We are changed in the very depths of our being. We are no longer who we were. The old has passed away. The new has arrived. We are now His, claimed for God, claimed for Heaven, claimed as members of Christ's Body. We are a new creation.