Scripture: Lectionary # 371. Gen. 12:1-9. Psalm 33:12-13.18-19.20.22.
Faith is always being developed through the liturgy and through our prayer
both in community, parishes, and individually. It is the development of
our faith that leads us to go beyond doubts and rationalizations to the
actual experience of Jesus and his words. Jesus often makes it quite easy
for us in the way he does talk. We have experienced this in the down to
earth practical spirituality of the beatitudes and the other commandments
and advice that Jesus speaks in the Sermon on the Mount. We can easily
visualize the Lord as his living voice touches our ears and hearts. Today
he is making it quite clear and simple: “Do not judge others.” Be not picky
about what we see in some of the habits and idiosyncracies of those with
whom we live and work. There is a story behind each of the grimaces,
quirks, and foibles we observe in others. We are not to judge them for
often we are just projecting or protecting our own habits that are just as
observable by others as we observe them. As a practical advice we are not
to speak about another in a judgmental way without the other being present.
This is a good Jewish rule. Moreover, returning to the living voice of
Jesus, he is telling us not to judge or we shall be judged.
The great philosopher, jurist, and writer, Maimonides (1135-1204) tells
us, “Listen to the truth from whomsover speaks it.” How much more should
we listen to the words of Jesus who is the Word of God and the living
Truth. Jesus speaks nothing but the truth and we have a treasure chest of
his truth in the Sermon on the Mount.
In turning to our first reading which is about the development of faith in
the person of Abram who will become Abraham, the Father of a nation of
peoples, we see how his openness to listening to God’s word leads him to
become a model for our faith. God leads him through many personal
experiences that make him grow into a covenantal faith and commitment to
God. He leaves his homeland and his relatives to go to a land he does not
know. We, too, can live out of experiences that can enhance our faith
development. We have not only the words and examples of Jesus and Abraham
but of all those who do the will of God in the pages of the Bible. Let us
listen then to the living voice of Jesus that comes through so clearly and
simply in the Sermon on the Mount in today’s excerpt and in all of the ones
we have already heard in the liturgical readings of the Gospel of Matthew.