The Greater Holiness (Mt 5:17-37)
O Lord Jesus, by your Holy Spirit, guide me to the heights of holiness.
Picture Jesus teaching his disciples.
Matthew wrote his gospel in 85 A.D. when the early fervor of the believers was cooling down. He tries to enkindle the fire by setting a high standard of holiness for his church. In this text, he contrasts the new level of holiness with the former level.
Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)
Jesus said to his disciples, “Unless your holiness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you shall not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
You have heard the commandment ‘You shall not commit murder and every murderer will be liable to judgment.’ What I say to you is: ‘Everyone who grows angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.’
You have heard the commandment, ‘You shall not commit adultery. What I say to you is: ‘Anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his thoughts.’
You have heard the commandment, ‘Do not take a false oath but make good to the Lord all your pledges.’ What I tell you is, ‘Do not swear at all.’ Say ‘Yes’ when you mean ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ when you mean ‘No.’ Anything beyond that is from the Evil One.”
Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)
- The Pharisees were seen as the holiest of Jews. Jesus goes beyond their teaching and presents a gigantic challenge to his new disciples.
- Since murder results from anger, Jesus demands that the sources of this violence be removed.
- Adultery comes from lustful thoughts. Even these must be purified.
- Jesus demands truth. No need to take an oath over little things. Just speak plainly and simply.
- The list of demands is endless, but if the disciple has a willing heart, he will do all these and more.
Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
- O Jesus, lift me to the highest purity and holiness of life.
- Calm my anger. Remove my resentment. Give me inner stillness.
- Cool down the fires of lust. Let me not feed those desires.
- Touch my lips with the burning coal of your Spirit. Then, my tongue will speak truth.
- Jesus, help me to change so I can be your disciple.
Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
+ I will not compromise. I will seek a true life of holiness.
+ I will purify the interior sources of my sins.
Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation.)
Unless your holiness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.