Eucharistic Readings for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany: Year A
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said” (Matthew 5)
In this section of the Gospel of Matthew our Lord Jesus re-interprets the Hebrew Testament. Specifically, Our Lord Jesus tells them what they have heard and re-orients them in a more godly way. He speaks of hate, of marriage and of the swearing of oaths.
Of hate we are to repent and seek forgiveness. Every Sunday (today) we open our service with the words, “Almighty God to you all hearts are open, all desires known and from you no secrets are hid. Cleanse the thoughts of our heart by the power of your Holy Spirit…” You see, it is only through prayer that we can overcome hate, hate of any kind, racial, ethnical, national, and today in America, political hatred.
Of marriage ,we are to honor our spouses. This has to do with the keeping of our word. Its more than just each other, it’s about the whole family. Just as we are told to honor our mother and father, mom and dad must honor each other. They Must model, if you will, what love and honor means. The marriage metaphor is also symbolic of the relationship we have with our Lord Jesus as the Bridegroom of our Church. and we are to be faithful to Christ always.
Of oaths, we are to let yes be yes and no be no. This is not “no because,” or yes if.” This is about seriously pondering a proposition and then stating your yes or no response after thinking about it.
All of these particular reinterpretations are about monitoring our hearts such that what we say is what we do. I have created for myself several five pointed stars. My first five pointed star reads, Praise God, love all, keep word, work hard and live plain. I’m still a work in progress. But this gets me through the day.
All we have is our word. We want God to keep God’s word. If we are created in God’s Image, and I believe we are, then we too must keep our word. Perhaps commitment supersedes anger, perhaps commitment supersedes even love. However, since commitment is all about your word, then it cannot, by its very nature, supersede itself, that is, your word. A promise, is a promise, is a promise.
Our baptismal covenant is an oath. We promise that we will renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God; We promise that we will renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God; We promise to renounce all sinful desires that draw us from the love of God; We promise to turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as our Savior; We promise to put our whole trust in his grace and love; and finally, We promise to follow and obey him as our Lord. Do you still promise these things? Yes or No only please.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John