In today’s Gospel (Mt 5:17-19) our Lord speaks to His disciples and to the crowds ( to all of us !) on the beautiful site of the Mount of the Beatitudes, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. After presenting to them the revolutionary concept of the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-10), and of our calling to be shining examples of goodness to the world (Mt 5:13-16), He goes on to tell us:
” Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches other to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. “
Our Lord seems to say to me that the greatest contribution which a citizen of the Kingdom can make is to do as much good as possible. To love others. The Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments are certainly great guides for how to bring goodness to humanity. This is what the Kingdom on Earth is about.
Our Lord fulfills and fuses these two sets of precepts and statutes by showing in the next verses and chapters how we are called to love of others, compassion, tolerance, self-giving, self-control, self-knowledge, honesty, forgiveness, prayer, spiritual poverty, and confidence in God. These components form the substance of the solid rock foundation on which each of us can build our relationship with Him.
I believe that the great majority of humanity really yearns to live by these rules. We want peace, security, love, respect between us and our neighbors. The society that prospers most is the one that comes closest to living by these rules. World literature is filled with heroes who strive to live like this in order to find happiness. And yet we are so flawed. There is so much disrespect, hate, and violence in our world.
I am certainly guilty of breaking many of these commandments. I am certainly one of the least in the Kingdom of heaven. I could fall into hopelessness and despair if it were not for the supernatural presence of Jesus in my life. Through His gift of prayer He has given me faith, love and hope to go on trying everyday, to trust, even in the darkest of days, in the power of His plan. For my part, in my hobbled, imperfect way, I promise Him, along with millions of brothers and sisters, to strive to ” obey and teach these commandments “, empowered by His live-giving Grace, ” until heaven and earth pass away “.