Over and Above

– 30th Week in Ordinary Time –

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” [Matthew 5:17]

I love writing lists. And I get pleasure when I can cross items of the list with a sense of satisfaction. When I read today’s gospel I felt that people in the crowd following Jesus may have had a bit of a “list” mentality. Jesus taught about laws that his Jewish audience would be familiar with and that were integral to the Jewish faith. I would think that there would be many in the crowd, on hearing Jesus’ teachings, mentally ticking the items off in their heads with a smug “No I don’t commit adultery, I don’t murder …” and therefore believing that they had fulfilled the letter of the Law.

But Jesus is inviting us to a deeper response to laws that govern a godly life, over and above what is written down and prescribed. These laws are just as applicable in our lives today. We can mentally tick off our own lists: “Went to mass on Sunday, gave $10 to Caritas, gave two tins of food to the SVDP Christmas appeal …” But if we are mentally organising our week during mass or holding on to that old, old grudge against a family member, our response to Jesus is only shallow.

Jesus is inviting us to a change of heart that is more than just ticking items off a list. We don’t have to do it on our own, in fact, we can’t. With the invitation, comes Jesus’ help to embrace an attitude that goes over and above what is asked of us by laws.

May our prayer today be one of openness to where Jesus wants to take us; to a heartfelt and more satisfying way of living with God’s Spirit.


by Michael Bruynesteyn

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