My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
We have just heard this powerful Gospel reading from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
I’m sure you have noticed, in the last few weeks in our Sunday liturgies, our Gospel passages have been taken from the Sermon on the Mount, beginning with the Beatitudes.
What Jesus is doing in the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount — is giving us a new program for living and a “new law” for our lives. The law of love.
And Jesus does this today in our Gospel by talking about the Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments.
We all know the Ten Commandments. They are the great gift that God gave to the human family through Moses many centuries ago.
In the first reading that we heard this morning, from the Book of Sirach, it talks about how important these commandments are. As we heard: Keep the commandments, they will save you.
So Jesus is telling us the same thing today in the Gospel. He does not come to do away with the Law of Moses or to abolish the commandments. His commandments fulfill the Law. They show us the inner spirit, the inner “logic” of the Ten Commandments.
So Jesus shows us today that the Ten Commandments of Moses can all be summed up in one commandment of love —to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbors as ourselves.2
And, as I’m sure you noticed, the love that Jesus commands is very demanding.
We all know that we should not kill anybody. But Jesus is taking that even deeper. He is telling us that the law of love means that we shouldn’t even get angry with others.
That is certainly very challenging. What do we do with that? Because we all get angry, one way or another. And there is always a situation in which we are not too happy or upset or really angry. So how can we do what Jesus is telling us to do?
That is what is so beautiful about the Gospel and our Christian faith.
Jesus gives us a new way of living. But he also gives us his own Spirit, his grace in the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist — to help us to follow him. To help us to live by his new commandment of love. Especially those two Sacraments that we can receive more often — the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Sacrament of the Eucharist — give us the grace, the strength to be able to live according to the law of love.
So as Moses came down a mountain with the Ten Commandments, Jesus climbs up on a mountain to give us his new commandment of love.
And Jesus is calling us to climb this mountain with him, to follow his pathway of love that leads to happiness and to heaven.
The old commandments are good, but Jesus is showing us a “still more excellent way.”3 His way. The way of the Beatitudes. The way of the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus is calling us to be like him. To be poor in spirit, and to mourn for sins and the suffering of others. He is calling us to be meek, and to hunger and thirst for justice. He is calling us to be merciful and pure of heart. To be peacemakers and to be willing to suffer for the sake of God.
This is how we are supposed to live his law of love, my brothers and sisters.
So we need to walk with Jesus and we need to practice love with the people in our lives, especially the people who are closest to us. Sometimes, again if we are honest, sometimes the people close to us can be the most challenging ones. But we need more patience. More understanding. More listening. Just listening to some one else’s story as they tell us about their day — this can be a great act of love.
Sometimes we have high expectations for people, especially the ones around us and when they don’t fulfill those expectations, then we become impatient. We need to ask Jesus in the Eucharist — when we receive the Eucharist —to help us to really live by the law of love.
But we also need to practice love in our communities, we need to try to help those in need and we need to work to make our city and our neighborhoods more compassionate, more loving, more just. Just think about it, you would have the capacity of being more of service to one another, to listen, as I said before, or to smile. Those little things in every day life make a huge difference in our relationship with the people that are close to us, and the people that live in our communities — at work, at school, everywhere.
This weekend, in most of the parishes in the Archdiocese, we are beginning our Together in Mission campaign, which supports our poorest parishes and schools. That is also a practical way in which we help one another in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, especially when we see that there are people in great need.
This program, Together in Mission, is a beautiful expression of our Christian duty to love one another. Through this program we support more than 38,000 families and 11,000 students right here in the Archdiocese in Los Angeles. So I hope you will all be able to give generously to this year’s Together in Mission appeal.
And finally, in the second reading that we heard this morning, St. Paul gives us a beautiful promise. He tells us that we cannot even imagine all the beauty and joy that we will find when we follow God’s way, the way of love:
Eye has not seen and ear has not heard …
What God has prepared for those who love him!
Isn’t that beautiful and extraordinary? So my brothers and sisters, this week let’s try to follow Jesus more closely on the pathway of love. Let’s try to do everything we do for love! Love for God. Love for our neighbor.
And maybe also we can find a little time maybe we can read the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, in Gospel of Matthew, Chapters 5, 6 and 7. It’s not too long, just a few minutes. This would make good spiritual reading this week.
I entrust all of us and our families to the intercession of Our Blessed Mother Mary — who is the Mother of Fair Love. May she help us all to follow the law of love, the beautiful program for our lives, that Jesus is giving us.
1. Readings (Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A): Sir. 15:15-20; Ps. 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34; 1 Cor. 2:6-10; Matt. 5:17-37.
2. Rom. 13:10.
3. 1 Cor. 12:31.