Engaging the Gospel – Matthew 5:38-48

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time — Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48

Jesus continues to perfect the Law, revealing His divine authority

Today’s Gospel is a seamless continuation from last Sunday, with Jesus perfecting the Old Law in His teaching of the New Law. Beyond just instructing us in His Law, Jesus also embodied it, living it out perfectly to become a model for us.

“Jesus could say to His disciples not only and not merely, ‘Follow My law,’ but, ‘Follow Me, imitate Me, walk in the light which comes from Me,’” as Blessed John Paul II summarized.

Why must we do so? Because Jesus reveals Himself as God:

In the important passages of the Sermon on the Mount, the contraposition is repeated, ‘You have heard that it was said….But I say to you.’ This was not to abolish the divine law of the old covenant, but to indicate its perfect fulfillment…

He did so by claiming for Himself an authority identical with that of God the lawgiver. It can be said that in that expression repeated six times, ‘I say to you,’ there resounds the echo of God’s self-definition, which Jesus also attributes to Himself, ‘I Am.’

John Paul II also noted how this struck Jesus’ audience:

It is a witness to us that the people immediately recognized the difference between Christ’s teaching and that of the Israelite scribes, not only in manner but also in substance. The scribes based their teaching on the text of the Mosaic Law, of which they were the interpreters and glossators. Jesus did not at all follow the method of a teacher or commentator of the old law.

General Audience, October 14, 1987.

Question for reflection: What concrete steps might I take to act more charitably?