Homily for the sixth Sunday in the year
Year A - Mt. 5:17-37
Father Daniel Meynen
"Jesus said: «Think not that I have come to abolish the
law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.
For truly, I say to you, heaven and earth must disappear sooner than one
jot, one flourish disappear from the law; it must all be accomplished.
Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches
men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does
them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and
Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
"«You have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall
not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' But I say
to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to
judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and
whoever says, `You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire. So
if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your
brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar
and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your
gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going
with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the
judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you,
you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.
"«You have heard that it was said, `You shall not commit adultery.'
But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already
committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes
you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose
one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.
And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away;
it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body
go into hell. "It was also said, `Whoever divorces his wife, let
him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that every
one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her
an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
"«Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old,
`You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have
sworn.' But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven,
for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool,
or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not
swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
Let what you say be simply `Yes' or `No'; anything more than this comes
"Jesus said: «Think not that I have come to abolish the
law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.»"
Jesus continues teaching: he instructs his disciples about how
to live the new Law, the law of love which he came to bring to the whole
world! In fact, nothing substantial changes: there is no fundamental
difference between the former Law and the new Law. What does change
is the manner of practicing the Law: Jesus comes to accomplish the
former Law, he comes to give it its perfection, its fullness!
Jesus perfectly fulfills the former Law, and it is thus that he, God
become a Man, saves the world! He comes into the world in order to
save it, but he does so by perfectly accomplishing the Law of God.
He therefore comes in order to accomplish in fullness the sacrifice which
was required by the former Law; and, at the moment when he is about to
fully sacrifice himself for his People, he says: "It is accomplished."
The former Law had its highest expression in ritual sacrifice, and Jesus
came to give this former Law its fullness by offering himself in sacrifice,
a sacrifice of love, a sacrifice that demonstrated to all men this Law
of love, which then became the new Law! "Think not that I have come
to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but
to fulfil them."
"« For truly, I say to you, heaven and earth must disappear
sooner than one jot, one flourish disappear from the law; it must all be
If there is a moment when heaven and earth will truly pass away and,
in a sense, disappear, it will be at the time of the second coming of Christ
to the earth. For it is then that the prophecy of Saint John will
be fulfilled: "I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first
heaven and the first earth had passed away." (Rev. 21:1)
These words of the Lord: "For truly, I say to you, heaven and
earth must disappear sooner than one jot, one flourish disappear from the
law; it must all be accomplished," can therefore mean that, if the Law
of God were no longer observed, if an iota, a dot of the Law disappeared,
then the moment would have come when Christ the Lord would return to earth
to give the Law all its fullness by judging the nations, as well as every
man and woman in particular.
Do we not find in this a very great motive to respect and accomplish
the Law of God in all of our life? Aren't we all responsible for
what happens in the world? In every age - yesterday, today, tomorrow
- each one of us is responsible before God and before men: we must
do all that is in our power to make sure that we practice the Law of God,
in order that heaven and earth do not pass away before our very eyes, and
so that Christ does not take us by surprise by returning when we are not
"«Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments
and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but
he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom
Let us look at what the Lord wishes us to do. What he asks of
us is that we observe his commandments, even the smallest of them.
But he also asks that we teach these same commandments to those around
us and to those who are in our care. We cannot therefore sit in our
little corner and believe that we are being perfect in our practice of
the Law of God: it is necessary for us to go beyond ourselves and
teach others how to practice the Law to perfection!
We have received the sacrament of Baptism; we have probably received
that of Confirmation as well. But these two sacraments don't exist
for their own sake: they are ordered to the reception of the Sacrament
of the Eucharist! Even if someone may not be able to actually receive
the Eucharist, the sacraments of baptism and confirmation make it possible
for him to enter into spiritual communion with Jesus in the Sacrament of
his Body and of his Blood. Therefore, if we were baptized in the
Blood of Christ (cf. Rm. 6:3), it is so that we may, through the Eucharist,
become other Christs similar to the one Christ, the Son of God.
Our baptism, and our confirmation in Christ, is what allows us to practice
in perfection the Law of God, the Law of love which Jesus manifested on
the Cross of Calvary, and which he comes to reveal to us at every eucharistic
celebration. Our baptism is what makes us sons of God in Christ through
the practice of the new Law! Therefore, let us be faithful to our
baptism and to our confirmation in Christ, let us be true disciples of
Christ through the Eucharist! May Mary, the Mother of us all, help
us through her prayer, which is powerful in its influence over the Heart