Jesus said to his disciples: “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 others 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. I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
by Father Greg Friedman, OFM
If I ask what comes to mind when I say “Moses and movies,” I’ll bet most older listeners would say, “Charlton Heston.” He created a memorable portrait of Moses in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments. But if I asked our evangelist Matthew who comes to mind when I say “Moses,” I’ll bet he’d say “Jesus.” In the Gospel of Matthew which we read this year, Jesus is portrayed as “the new Moses.”
Today in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is literally “on the mountain” as Moses was, teaching how to follow the Torah--the Jewish Law. He’s a new kind of lawgiver, as he says he has come not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. He offers a challenging re-presentation of the commandments, expanding the notions of murder, adultery and swearing falsely, to reflect a deeper way of loving God and neighbor, building on the laws prohibiting such behavior.
Matthew’s Gospel communities are thought to have contained many Jewish converts to Christianity. These words would have been comforting to them—showing Jesus as fulfilling a way of life they had known from birth. Our “birth” as Christians came at baptism. How do we hear these challenging Gospel texts from Jesus—our “new Moses”—calling us to a radical way of life—a life of love and service in imitation of him?
by Father Dan Kroger, OFM
• “If you choose…” says Sirach in the first reading (Sir 15:15-20). What is he trying to say?
He points out some things to give us an idea of what he means. Can you name a couple things we face?
Does God ever tell us to act unjustly?
• In this week's second reading (1Cor 2:6-10), Paul says he is speaking about a special wisdom. How does he talk about it?
What is the wisdom of this age? What is God’s wisdom like? What is special about it?
• In the Gospel, Jesus says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.” Are these parts of the Hebrew Bible?
Instead what does Jesus say about why he has come?
Then Jesus gives a lot of examples of what it means to keep the commandments. For example, consider how he teaches that even anger and strong words should not be used to judge others. Give some other examples of how the commandments of the law are about attitudes, too, not just big sins.
by Susan Hines-Brigger
• This week's Gospel is all about teaching. Think of something you know how to do--such as how to play a game or make a certain snack--and then teach it to either your family members or friends.
• The first reading makes reference to making choices between things like good and evil. Play a game in which you present two things to someone and ask him or her to choose one. For instance, ask if the person would rather go to the mountains or the beach or if he or she would prefer to eat ice cream or cake.