Scripture: Lectionary 240. Deuteronomy 4: 1,5-9. Psalm 147:12-13, 15-16.19-20. Matthew 5:17-19:
Deuteronomy is the covenant book of the Hebrew Scriptures and Jesus is telling us that he is not here to change one little dot of the written Scriptures. He knows how to live the precepts and commandments with the law becoming love while his love makes the Book of Deuteronomy a book that helps even those who are not Israelites. All of the Fathers of the Church insist on the necessity of keeping both the revelation given in the Old Testament and the New Testament alive in our lives. The two go together as we have learned so well since Vatican II.
Like Moses, Jesus teaches the covenant of love and law together in his Sermon on the Mount. The beatitudes are the spark of love that he gives to his interpretation of the all that he learned from Deuteronomy. Mercy and loving-kindness are essential to the teachings of the whole of the Old Testament and that of the New Testament. Jesus is the model teacher in Matthew’s Gospel, the most Jewish of the four. Jesus shows us how to be faithful to God as intelligent and wise persons who know what God demands of us through the Torah (which means law, teaching, and revelation). He teaches the heart of the message in his Sermon on the Mount so that we may be partakers in the covenant in a joyous and happy way. His beatitudes give this as his interpretation of the revelation of the covenant love in Deuteronomy.
Jesus ends today’s reading with a very helpful thought to keep in mind on this Lenten day: “Whoever fulfills and teaches these commands shall be great in the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 5:19).
Lent offers us ample time to pray and meditate on the whole of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7). Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are given as practices that help us to do what Jesus wants of us. Beyond what is required there is the great blueprint in the sermon for what it means to be a disciple of the Lord with a listening heart. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.