- Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
- Psalm 119:33-40
- 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
- Matthew 5:38-48
Today’s Gospel continues the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus teaches that it is not enough for us to love our neighbors who love us. He calls us to a way of life that reaches far beyond worldly standards of goodness. Our covenant with God calls us to live a life of justice and compassion that surpasses expected behavior.
Legalistic religion has traditionally been used to define the ways in which people can limit the extent of their care for others and still regard themselves as good. Jesus presents a standard that ends all standards. When tempted to revenge and to circumscribe love, we must seek to be like the Father who cares equally for all. We must love our enemies so that we may be children of our Father in heaven.
- In the Leviticus passage we read that the people of Israel are holy because the Lord their God is holy. What then is required of Israel truly to be God’s people?
- In Matthew 5:48, Jesus calls us to be perfect as God is perfect. Here the word “perfect” is used in the sense of wholeness. What do you need to do in your own spiritual life to move toward this goal?
- The Baptismal Covenant stresses the need to “seek and serve Christ in all persons” and to “strive for justice and peace among all people” (BCP 305). A congregation living out the biblical and Baptismal Covenant imperative will be constantly exploring issues of justice and compassion. Throughout history the church has stood for justice and compassion in society, out of response to the biblical imperative to be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 19:2). How do you (and your congregation) explore (and live out) issues of justice and compassion?
There are many hymns connected with how we are called to be neighbors to one another. “Jesu, Jesu” found in The Hymnal 1982 (602) and Lift Every Voice and Sing II (74) is one.