Monday, February 10, 2014

Matthew 5:21-37

Year A - Epiphany 6 or Guiding Gift 6
February 16, 2014

“But I say to you . . . .” are words of great relief.

We know the human propensity to tangle itself up with accreted rules and regulations. These are like a lid on a pressure cooker with a clogged vent pipe. Eventually there will be an explosion.

It turns out that these five words are not license for taking all limits off behavior or even constraining such further (don’t forget this formula can make things even more difficult—moving from overt murder to implicit murder through gossip). These words are an antidote to violent revolution.

To hear “But I say to you . . . .” is to be able to reflect on our current state-of-affairs, how we got to the current impasse, and back off enough to reconsider where the common good comes into play again with all we have learned since the introduction of particular creedal controls.

An obvious next step is to move this from the realm of external authority, “Jesus says . . . .” to participatory prophecy, “I say our rules are causing us self-harm. It is time to look at our relationships again in light of what it means to be created in G*D’s image, singular and plural.”

Without this phrase we serially recognize how much we have bought into what J. B. Phillips once described as Your God Is Too Small.

“But I say to you . . . .” is relief; it gives more elbow room.

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