Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Reflection
Parents take delight in the achievements of the children. When we realise as parents or grandparents that these children have become good people, our hearts soar and our joy is complete. When a teacher recognises that lightbulb moment of apprehension in a student, that same joy is experienced. Jesus was both parent as the Christ before Abraham was, and teacher to his disciples whom he loves.
Jesus extends the horizons of our understanding beyond philosophy and even beyond human wisdom. Jesus accomplishes the demands of the law and institutes the new kingdom of God, here and now, with you and with me, each one of us as God’s child and as God’s friend.
This is the new age, the new dispensation and the new Covenant of Love. Beyond the horizons of the law, each family member is now valued beyond measure and no one is to be accounted as foolish, empty, of no account, as worthless. In the light of these new family ties, this bond of love moves us far beyond the demands of the law and the fence of oral traditions surrounding that law as scrupulously followed by the scribes and the Pharisees.
The interchanging of kingdom of God for kingdom of heaven here in Matthew reflects the pious Jewish injunction against the use of God’s name. Jesus is teaching his disciples as he is teaching us, how to live within this new dispensation, this new covenant within the new age of reign of the kingdom of God.
This is not some escape plan for after our death, this is how we are to live in the world as God’s family and as brothers and sisters to each other. This is the reality and the truth of the Eucharist that we share, the body and blood of Christ, separate in each, yet one in all. God not only with us, but in us as we in turn become one in Christ Body. As soon as we can begin to see the Truth here, the Truth will be seen everywhere.
The vista of this new horizon that Jesus presents is as awesome as it can be disconcerting. The paradox of the cross has indeed laid bare the intentions of our hearts and the true nature of all violence. Sacrifice and sacred violence is built into the very psyche of humanity as that commercial exchange of unblemished victim scapegoat on behalf of the collective group.
The passion and death of Christ within this mould, is often portrayed as the perfect sacrifice, being the pattern for our own lives, with the resurrection and glorification being seen as God’s seal of approval. This is the blueprint for all religion of sacrifice and sacred violence since the earliest dawn of time. Jesus the Christ brakes this mould to teach us a new way.
God has been walking with us through all this history, replacing human sacrifice as he saves life of Isaac, ending the commercial exchange in animal sacrifice as Jesus frees the animals from the temple complex and then finally taking the place of the sacrificial lamb.
Through the cross, the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus, became a scapegoat at the hands of sinful humanity in order to free us from the sin of scapegoating, our broken conception of a vengeful God, and the foundational sins of rivalry with God and each other.
Without a personal relationship with God who is with us and in us in each and every event of our lives, and in his humanity as Jesus, we continue to be fearful of the terror of history and will return again and again to the trading floor and to these foundational sins of rivalry with God and each other.
Judging others as lesser, as unworthy, opens the door to anger and violence. When this judgement and condemnation is placed within a religious and spiritual arena, it becomes the vilest form of abuse.
Do not copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)