Give me more! – Thursday, 10th week in ordinary time – Mt 5:20-26

Jesus has clearly taught the disciples that identity comes before behaviour.  The identity of a disciple is to be the salt and light of the world.  Having done that, Jesus now gives His disciples an understanding on behaviour. These are found in the six hyper-theses in the Sermon on the Mount and today’s gospel is the first of them.

What is the point that Jesus wants to make? He wants His disciples to go beyond the law of the Old Testament by deepening and radicalizing it to the original will of God. However, He never moves them in a lax direction; rather Jesus moves us to more, and hence they are called hyper-theses (JBC).

Perhaps it was the mind of Jesus to rectify the inadequate interpretation of the law as interpreted by the Scribes and Pharisees. So His first example is taken from the sixth commandment, “thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13). 

Remember that Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to deepen it and so while He does not diminish the law on homicide He went beyond it. He takes up the more subtle manifestation of the behaviour that leads to homicide; behaviour that we perhaps live out each day.  It is in anger, insult and name calling that Jesus sees the potential seeds of murder.

For Jesus, the essence of murder is when we begin to regard another’s life as useless. The Scribes and Pharisees believed that they were guiltless of such a crime as long as they did not shed the blood of another human. In doing this they missed the spirit of the law. Jesus sends His listeners in a tizzy when He takes the same penalty for murder and applies it to anger and careless words.

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