Homily for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Theme: THERE IS JOY IN KEEPING THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD.
By: Fr JB Mbbah-Offor
Homily for Sunday February 16 2020
Sir 15:15-20, 1 Cor 2:6-10; Gosp Mt 5:17-37
The word law translated the Hebrew word “Torah”, which refers, not only to the Ten commandments, but to the whole way of life consequent on the people’s covenant relationship with God. The law and prophets mean the whole of scripture, used as a comprehensive description of what we would call the whole old Testament. The Ten commandments represented the basics of what people had to do to behave humanly and live as God’s children. It was not easy for man to accept and it took generations of years for them to become the norm.
In the Old Testament itself, we find few rules and regulations; what we do find are great, broad principles which people must take and interpret for themselves under God’s guidance and apply to the individual situations in life. To the later Jews, these principles did not seem enough. For them, out of the law, it must be possible to deduce a rule and a regulation for the every possible situation in life. The scribes as a group made it as their business to reduce the great principles of the law to literally thousands upon thousands of rules and regulations. The law lays it down that the Sabbath day is to be kept holy, and on it no work is to be done. But for the Jewish legalists, all kinds of things were classified as work. For instance, to carry a burden on Sabbath is work, to write on Sabbath is work, to heal on Sabbath is work etc. The scribes were the characters who gave out these rules and regulations. The Pharisees, whose name means “the separated ones”, were the men who had separated themselves from all the ordinary activities of life to keep all these rules and regulations.
Jesus came to bring out the meaning of the law and not to destroy it. The whole meaning of the Ten commandment of God can be summed up in one word – respect or reverence. Reverence for God and for the name of God, respect for parents, respect for life, respect for property, respect for personality, respect for oneself and another person’s good name. Jesus came to show men and women in actual life what reverence for God and respect for one another are like. Jesus came to show what it means to give to God the reverence and to other people the respect which are their due.
That reverence and respect consisted in mercy and love and not in rules or regulations. By fulfilling the law and the prophets, Jesus does not intend to reform the law or improve on it or multiply its regulations. He wishes to offer us a new way of life which will do all that the law intends to do, but in a far superior way. Love is for Jesus the absolute value to which all else is subordinate. The law is to be observed to the extent that its regulations are safeguards of love. His way is the way of love that does not brush aside the law but leads to a radical obedience which goes beyond the letter of the law to its very spirit.
There are three classes of the wicked with regard to the Ten commandment of God: the first class of the wicked, the second class of the wicked and the third class of the wicked. First class of the wicked are those who love themselves but they don’t love God who created them. They don’t love their parents also. Those that don’t keep the Sabbath day holy. They violate the following commandments of God, commandment number 1, 2, 3, and 4. The second class of the wicked are those who love themselves but they don’t love their neighbor, they kill, steal, and malign one another. They violate the following commandment: 5, 7, and 8. Third class of the wicked are those love themselves but they cannot forgive those that wrong them, they cannot control their anger or their sexual passion. They violate the following commandment : 6, 9, and 10.
Jesus in Matthew 5:20, made it clear that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. But excuse me, what is the kingdom of heaven all about my beloved brethren? The kingdom of God was established in this world when Christ came. We are expected to enter this kingdom in this world before entering it in the next world. How? Very simple. Just by allowing Christ to reign in our hearts and this kingdom will be established in our hearts. We can become righteous when we keep the commandments of God and allow God have His way in our lives.
Peace be with you
Fr JB Mbbah-Offor