6th Sun C
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
After challenging his disciples to be salt and light to the world, Jesus expects his followers to live by using a series of contrasts between the Jewish Tradition and his new teaching. But, first, Jesus is very careful to explain the relationship between his teaching and the Law: it is NOT going to be swept aside, rather it comes to its fulfilment in his teaching.
Our use of the word Law for the Jewish term ‘Torah’ is unfortunate to say the least. With our English Law mentality, ‘laws’ are often regarded as rules to be kept…or pushed just so far so that we don’t get into trouble: the ‘How many kms can I go over the speed limit before the cops will charge me?’ mentality. Rather Torah was seen as guidance based on the covenant relationship. God had committed himself to this people, Israel, and in love had given them a series of commandments that would awaken them to a full and rich life. Using the driving image again, this would mean that when we got into a car, we would ask, ‘How can I drive so that I respect the preciousness of human life that is in all the people around me?’ With such a mentality, even a trip to pick up the newspaper becomes a religious act. Human nature, being what it is, finds it so much easier to keep external laws than to transform one’s heart. The magnificent obedience of the Pharisees could easily turn into legalism that missed the point of the Torah.
In this Sunday’s and next Sunday’s Gospel, we see Jesus’ transformation of six aspects of Torah – six areas central to life in society: anger management, sexuality and marriage, truthfulness, forgiveness and relationship with ‘enemies/outsiders’. They appear as antitheses – ‘The Torah and Prophets say this but I say that.’ Jesus asserts his position in relation to the Law and the Prophets and a superficial reading looks like he is rejecting the past but a close study of each contrast shows that Jesus really is fulfilling Torah by calling on us to live in love from the heart.