|St- Andre-Rublev's Saviour|
In the care of the Ecumenical Franciscan Order
Homily preached at Winmalee:
by Br. Andrew e.f.o. 16th February 2014
Gospel Matthew 5:21-27
Both Simeon and I have spoken about self-individuation, the development of the individual Christian as a mature Self/ adult in Christ.
Today’s readings continue the theme of relationship, our relationship within us, between God and us and each other.
Real life – at least recognizably so
Corinth has been described as a sort of Greek Kings Cross because of the presence of the cult of the goddess Aphrodite with her 1000 prostitute all descending on the city at night to ply their trade, capturing the Sailor’s coinage.
In Paul’s time, Corinth was home to roughly 200 Christians, out of a population of some 14,000 people, 5,000 of whom were slaves. Worship took place in established home Churches. Since Corinth was a Roman Colony these homes were built in the Roman style and were home to extended families, servants and slaves. Christians came together to worship in the larger of the complexes the head of the house hold being the leader of the Church, some of these leaders were women.
Paul refers to these fledging Churches as babies in Christ whom he had to feed with milk since they were not ready for the meat of the maturity of the kingdom – indeed, he says, you are still not. They were no different than the average Corinthian resident, more concerned with which prominent Christian worker to follow than with being a Christian, Again we speak of Sectarianism.
The lack of right relationship within the Corinthian churches on the three planes I mentioned in the beginning prevented Christians living out their lives as Jesus had desired. God seemed to be missing from their equation and at the other levels there was a game of tug of war happening that must have hindered proper communication with their Lord.
Perfect Relationship for Israel in Canaan 1400 BC
Experts tell us that Moses in 120 years old, at this point in Deuteronomy and that it is Roughly 30 days his death, the Israelites have been within grasp of the Promised Land for 38 years yet too afraid to enter there, by now most of those with him have been born in the desert. This Book, the Second Law was written over a period of two months, including the 30 day mourning period for Moses.
Deuteronomy is believed to have been written by Moses and Joshua and teaches that the relationship between GOD and His people goes beyond the Law. Without obedience and loyalty to God we cannot maintain our relationship with GOD. Loyalty to GOD is the foundation of true reverence and holiness. Success, victory, prosperity and happiness, all of it depends on our obedience to Our Lord. (Deut.10: 12, 13)
The Psalm, the longest in the Book of Psalms was not written by David but in the 6th century BCE after the exile to Babylon, the time of Ezra/Nehemiah. . It begins with Beatitude, echoing the messages given to the Corinthians and Israelites as a church and a Nation
It provides an insight into the personal space of one seeking right relationship with God.
5 Oh that my ways were steadfast to obey your statutes!
6 Then I wouldn’t be disappointed, when I consider all of your commandments.
7 I will give thanks to you with uprightness of heart, when I learn your righteous judgments.
8 I will observe your statutes. Don’t utterly forsake me.
In obeying the words given to Israel in Deuteronomy and walking according to the Lord’s Law we are blameless, the Christians in Corinth needed to be quiet and become acquainted with the Law of the Lord that they might keep it. Taking the Psalm verse by verse seems to offer a simple and peaceful manner by which to attain the maturity of obedience and advancement in Spirituality and obedience to God.
Beyond the Law –Perfect interpersonal relationships
Jesus explains what Moses ment to go beyond the Law.
Jesus is speaking now of our interpersonal relationships and if we are not to remain at the level of Christian maturity of the Corinthians it is a life-giving thing to understand how to live more than the Law requires. To know what is true awe and obedience.
To hold another Christian so dear to us that to show uncaused for anger towards them or to harbor it in our heart is tantamount to murder and merits the same penalties. Notice the seriousness of belittling another – an appearance before the Supreme Court (Sanhedrin)
As we always do as part of our liturgy we give each other a sign of Peace and reconciliation – living beyond the law calls demands that our worship is honest, we cannot in hypocrisy bring a gift to the table if there is enmity between us and another. We must all come to Jesus as cleanly and as honestly as our Christian maturity allows.
The readings today have shown us what God desires of us: Holistic selves, Holistic Relationships and Holiness before the Lord our God; moving from Spiritual Self-individuation to a Community of Believers who know we are together in Christ, to serve.