Epiphany 6 - Year A
Ah, the literalist approach to salvation - trying to get into heaven by narrowly defining rules to one’s own advantage. Picking and choosing and narrowly defining statements just enough to always be just on the inside side of the cut. Knowing you don’t deserve heaven because of your wretchedness, what else can be done but to do everything in your power to redefine the rules to their letter and excusing behavior because of intent.
The “But I say to you . . .” lines from Jesus are critical to what it means to be a person on a journey to wholeness. Here murder is no longer limited to the physical but the emotional and the relational. Adultery is not just a final act but a desire, culminated or not. It is this same desire that makes one unchaste and open for divorce.
Jesus is not a letter-of-the-law partner with G*D. This relationship is also not one of good G*D, bad G*D.
How are we going to keep following a “Yes, but I say to you . . .” leader? If our intent isn’t simply a desire to learn the latest, revisionist ropes in order to game the system and advance, what is it? Are we those literalists mentioned above, just over different pasages?
Which is why this pericope ends with an examined life and ability to trust a Jesus Spirit to prompt us to say “No” to bad stuff and “Yes” to good stuff without such being part of a programmatic approach to living or a blowing in the wind. Want to keep your saltiness, continuing to add flavor to the world? Want to send a shining ray far down the future’s broadening way? Learn how to listen to “But I say to you” and, in turn, to say it and live it.