•Sirach 15: 15-20 I Corinthians 2: 6-10 Matthew 5: 17 -37•
Weekly Scripture Readings: 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I do not feel the need to focus our attention on the one who is the current Bishop of Rome. I did focus on John XXIII when he sat in Peter’s chair; probably too much! Our attention ought to focus on we who are Church. We are primarily responsible for living the gospel.
After a bishop from Argentina was elected Bishop of Rome, the media got excited. In their mind his life style and his preaching were fresh and newsworthy. However in recent weeks I noticed, perhaps you have as well, that Francis, the Bishop of Rome, is fading from the media. Perhaps that is because of the three-ring circus our recent election became. I think there is a bigger reason.
It appears that many of the bishops here in the United States have hardened their hearts to Francis. Unlike his predecessors, he consistently recalls for a renewal of the vision birthed in the II Vatican Council. He directs our attention consistently to the poor and broken. He does not coddle the North American church. At least some of our bishops think he is too soft on issues like communion for those among us who are divorced and remarried without an annulment.
Francis is a realist about the world in which we live and about the church. The world he sees and embraces is in trouble and the church he loves is in trouble, and he keeps saying so. He has spent very little time on the petty squabbles within the church. He remains focused on life as it is for most people today. He has spoken out about climate change and unjust economic policies. He laments the plight of refugees and violations of human rights.
If Francis has been fading from the media, perhaps it is because his concerns are gospel concerns – The Sermon on the Mount! If he makes the wealthy and racists squirm, perhaps it is because his concerns are gospel concerns – The Sermon on the Mount!
Following his lead, it is our responsibility to ask and ponder what is wrong and unjust in the world and in the church? What ought to guide the development of economic policies? What ought to guide our response to climate change, refugees and war?
For those of us who gather in the Eucharistic Assembly each week, the answer to such questions are obvious. The answer is contained in that section of Matthew’s gospel commonly proclaimed here today. It is referred to as The Sermon on The Mount. The text asks us, “How is your love life?”
The stuff of life for all of us is complex and challenging. Whatever the unique experiences and circumstances that are the stuff of your life and mine, the gospel of Jesus is clear. Life is primarily about relationships. Relationships are primarily about love.
No matter what we do, that Gracious Mystery we name God is continually present in our lives. We always are children of God. Our primary duty as companions of Jesus is to help one another maintain hope. We do so by responding to our relationships to God’s mercy and love.
Initially the portion of that sermon proclaimed here today sounds like a list of prohibitions. “Do not kill, commit adultery, divorce, or take a false oath.” This is not primarily a list of prohibitions. Everything in this text is about “relationships.” Listen deeply to the text. It simply admonishes us to be fully human. We are fully human when wee are responsible to and for every relationship.
The words attributed by Matthew to Jesus in this Sermon on the Mount set before us a plan or design of what it means to be fully human. Matthew’s Jesus is saying, if you want to be fully human approach and respond to every relationship, with individuals or within community, with reverence and respect.