Do you like the 10 Commandments? Some people like Ted /Turner the originator of Play Boy Magazine and some others believe they are out dated and that they were intentionally a little too severe like setting a clock ½ ahead to make sure of not being late for an appointment. Do you agree? Jesus agreed that the 10 Commandments are good and necessary and that we have Free-Will as it says in Sirach, our 1st reading and that we are able to live by them if we wanted to. The Jewish leaders agreed with the Commandments but they added some 600 additional laws which both Jesus and his followers felt that those 600 added unnecessary burden on the people.
Jesus believed that in order to have a good base for their lives the 10 Commands should stay and should be obeyed but that they needed to be given their full meaning which Jesus did as delineated in today’s Gospel, in order for us to live lives of justice and righteousness and which would then exceed the lives of the Scribes and Pharisees. In order to accomplish that he provided his own position on the Law given through Moses by providing a new interpretation and meaning for the old laws going to the roots of them as they covered murder, adultery, divorce, taking foolish oaths, anger, retaliation and love of our neighbor. Addressing just that which he taught on the 5th commandment which reads “Do not murder” and a murderer must be brought to trial he said, bringing this Commandment to its full meaning“, I promise you that if you are angry with someone you will have to stand trial.” His complete message concerning the 5th Commandment is that we are to respect life in all its stages in both words and deeds, meaning that we are to control our anger because as we recognize, anger is the rawest, strongest and potentially the most destructive of all human emotions. Jesus advised his disciples and us not to get angry in such a way that we sin. Scripture tells us that Jesus was angry at least one time when he found the merchants in the temple taking advantage of the poor people. The anger he experienced which is “anger in the heart” which is a sudden blazing flame of anger which dies down suddenly as in the case of Jesus. After he had thrown them out of the temple his anger would have been sinful if he had allowed that anger to boil inside of him and had allowed it to linger by seeking revenge and if he had refused to forgive and forget.
He as well addressed Anger in Speech, that is, using words which are insulting like calling a person a fool as Jesus did when he called the Pharisees “Whitened Sepulcures”. That action again would have become sinful if he would have carried it to the point of damaging their reputation or if the anger would have been uncontrollable resulting in physical assault. In short Jesus teaches that long lasting anger is sinful in particular when it is meant to destroy a person’s reputation or harming another physically.
In today’s Gospel he gave full meaning to the 7th Commandment, “Be faithful in marriage” when he said a person violates that Commandment when a person is “unfaithful in thoughts”.
How many people in our current society agree with the full meaning which Jesus gave to the Commandments as recorded in not just in today’s readings from the 5th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew but in the all the Gospels? Do you think the Commandments are even more severe than you did before you gained an improved understanding of them with Jesus’ providing us with what he sees as their full meaning? Or do you now have a better understanding of the intent of each now that we know their full meaning and how following each of them leads us to live lives reflecting true love for one another, and for everyone more and more like the love which God has for each of us?
In order to be true to God, to ourselves and to others we need to allow God’s Words of Truth to penetrate our minds and hearts and to form our consciousness, making us men and women of integrity. .