Lectio Divina


Saturday - Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

God of wisdom and love,
source of all good,
send your Spirit to teach us your truth
and guide our actions
in your way of peace.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 5,33-37

Jesus said to his disciples: 'Again, you have heard how it was said to our ancestors, You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you, do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is God's throne; or by earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is "Yes" if you mean yes, "No" if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the Evil One.'

3) Reflection

• In today’s Gospel, Jesus rereads the commandment: “Do not commit perjury”. And here also he surpasses the letter, concerning the spirit of the law and seeks to indicate the last objective of this commandment: to attain total transparency in the relationship among persons. Here we can apply what we said concerning the two commandments “Do not kill” and “Do not commit adultery”. It is a question of a new way of interpreting and setting into practice the law of Moses, starting from the new experience of God Father/Mother which Jesus has brought to us. He rereads the law beginning with the intention which God had in proclaiming it centuries ago on Mount Sinai.
• Matthew 5, 33: It was said to our ancestors: you must not swear. The Law of the Old Testament said: “Do not commit perjury” And it added that the person should swear for the Lord (cf. Nb 20, 2). In the prayer of the Psalms it is said that “one can go up to the Mountain of Yahweh and reach the holy place, if he does not have innocent hands and a pure heart, and does not confide in idols, nor swears in order to deceive” (Ps 24, 4). The same thing is said in diverse other points of the Old Testament (Ecl 5, 3-4), because one must be able to trust the words of others. In order to favour this reciprocal trust, tradition had invented the help of the oath. In order to strengthen one’s own word, the person would swear for someone or for something which was greater than he and who could punish him if he did not fulfil what he had promised. Things continue to be like this up to the present time. Whether in the Church or in society, there are some moments and occasions which demand a solemn oath on the part of persons. In last instance, the oath is the expression of the conviction according to which nobody can trust completely the word of the other.
• Matthew 5, 34-36: But I say to you: do not swear. Jesus wants to heal this deficiency. It is not sufficient “not to swear”. He goes beyond and affirms: “But I say to you: do not swear at all: either by heaven, since that is God’s throne; or by earth, since that is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is ‘Yes if you mean yes, ‘No’ if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the Evil One”.
They would swear for heaven and for earth, for the city of Jerusalem, for their own head. Jesus shows that all that is medicine which does not cure the pain and suffering of the lack of transparency in the relationship among persons. Which is the solution which he proposes?
• Matthew 5, 37: Let your speech be yes, yes; no, no. The solution which God proposes is the following: Let your speech be yes, yes; no, no; anything more than this comes from the Evil One”. He proposes a radical and total honesty. Nothing more. Anything more that you say comes from the Evil One. Here again, we are confronted with an objective which will always remain in our mind and which we will never succeed in fulfilling it completely. It is another expression of the new ideal of justice which Jesus proposes: “to be perfect like the Heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5, 48). Jesus uproots any attempt to create in myself the conviction that I am saved because I observe the law. Nobody can merit God’s grace. Because otherwise it would not be a grace. We observe the Law, not in order to merit salvation, but in order to thank with all our heart, for the immense gratuitous goodness of God who accepts us, and saves us without any merit on our part.

4) Personal questions

• How do I observe the law?
• Have I experienced some time in my life the gratuitous goodness of God?

5) Concluding Prayer

I bless Yahweh who is my counsellor,
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep Yahweh before me always,
for with him at my right hand, nothing can shake me.
(Ps 16,7-8)

 
 
 
 
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Last revised: 23 May 2008