Scripture: Lectionar 240: Deuteronomy 4:1.5-9. Psalm 147:12-13.15-16.19-20.
Naturally our Gospels focus on Jesus and make him greater than the angels,
the saints, and the patriarchs and prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures. Today
we return again to the Sermon on the Mount that certainly fits the season
of Lent in a very practical way. Jesus is a superb teacher– a new Moses
in Matthew’s perception, and a servant Messiah who really does much more
than a royal messiah could imagine. Salvation is no easy victory even for
Jesus, the Word made flesh. Jesus is here to tell us he fulfills not
destroys. He builds, he does not tear down. As the Word of God he makes
God’s words his own whether they come from Deuteronomy or from Matthew!
His teaches goes to the heart of the Scriptures and his own words are the
stuff of which a New Testament comes into existence. This is befitting one
who is called in John’s Gospel, the Word become flesh and living among us.
The Torah is to be fulfilled with the fulness of its message; the heart of
the message is doing the will of God and enjoying it. We hear a lot of
people saying, “How do I know the will of God?” Just take your Bible and
read what God says to you in a whole library of books that have been
translated into almost every language used.
The text from Deuteronomy spells out the same message that Jesus is
teaching for it is the word of God. It tells us, “Observe them (the
precepts, the statutes, the commandments) carefully, for thus you will give
evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations.” We are to teach
them to our children whether those in the family or those in the classroom.
Psalm 147 prays both the message of Moses and that of Jesus. “He has
proclaimed his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel. He has
not done thus for any other nation.;; his ordinances he has not made known
Israel looks upon the “Ten Commandments” as Ten Words of God to them.
Moses and Jesus teach them and us that these words are life-giving and
inspired by the Spirit of God. Power is in them. They are the personal
words of love and compassion from God to us and they help us do good things
for ourselves and others. These words come to us through those that are
written and those that are spoken to us as we listen to God telling us
them. We need only to put these words into action and thus the will of God
is done through us.
Jesus is speaking directly to us as his disciples. He encourages us to
learn from him so that we will be participants in building the kingdom and
belonging to it. He recalls the Torah and is forming the Gospel as he
speaks. They are one in his mind and heart. “Justice and Peace shall kiss.”
Our own wisdom is developed through the discipline of observing not only
the commandments but the spirit behind them as interpreted in the Sermon on
the Mount. One of the great mystical and theological holy men, Gregory of
Nyssa, sums it up for us: “Love and fear (reverence and awe) of the Lord
are the first fulfillment of the law.” Amen.