- Deuteronomy 30:15-20 OR Sirach 15:15-20
- Psalm 119:1-8
- 1 Corinthians 3:1-9
- Matthew 5:21-37
This is the third week in which our gospel focuses on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (and it continues for the next two weeks). In this portion of Matthew, Jesus calls for a profound commitment, leading his followers to witness to a distinctive way of life. There are various ways we live out this commitment in congregational worship:
- The offertory at the Eucharist continues the ancient practice of offering gifts at the altar as an act of commitment to and reconciliation with God.
- The passing of the peace at the Eucharist expresses the command of Jesus to leave one’s gift at the altar and be reconciled with one’s brother and sister and then offer the gift. Since it follows the confession and absolution, the peace is an acting-out of the need to forgive as we have been forgiven.
- The church must take seriously the call for unity and peace within the Body of Christ. Harsh judgments and enmity have no place in the congregation.
Today, Matthew shares one of the most intense accounts of the way Jesus changed things. “You have heard it said,” he begins each part of his teaching and then goes on to say, “But I say to you.” He does what he said he would do – not abolishing the laws of God – but fulfilling them. He never says, “You have heard it said ‘You shall not kill’ but I say it’s okay.” On the contrary, Jesus’ teaching requires more – don’t be angry or name-call. In fact, Jesus says, if you are going to offer your gift at the altar and remember that your brother has anything against you, leave the gift and go be reconciled. We are called to keep the commandments, of course, but we are called to more.
Questions for reflection:
- Which of Jesus’ teachings in today’s Gospel do you find most difficult?
- It is a great compliment to be called “a person of his/her word.” Who would you name as such a person?
- What “yes” that God asks is most challenging for you?
- What “no” that God asks is easiest for you?
- Epiphany’s Epistle: 1 Corinthians (prayerbookguide.wordpress.com)