Homily, Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
  Given at the Cathderal of the Annunciation on February 12, 2017
    One very important point for us to remember about Jesus is that he was a man of his time. He was a devout Jew who observed the commandments of God in the Torah, although he did not necessarily follow some of the ritual practices. He made it very clear that the heart of the commandments is to love God and to love your neighbor. But even more, Jesus interpreted some of the commandments and expanded upon them. He spoke with a divine authority that amazed the people and we have his teaching summarized for us in the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew's gospel.
    It is easy for us who hear these words so many times to pass over them casually. But if we wish to follow Jesus faithfully we cannot do that. Jesus teaches us how to live as sons and daughters of God. Jesus' teaching demands of us a moral commitment and a corresponding moral life. We must not forget that we cannot make a fool of God. In the final judgment we will be held accountable for our decisions in life. The mercy of God does not excuse us from this accountability. Rather the great mercy of God forgives our sins and calls us now to conversion of life.  Now is the time to follow Christ whole heartedly. In the last days Jesus will come again as the judge of the living and the dead.
    When Jesus spoke about the commandment against murder he said: "I say to you, whoever is angry with his  brother will be liable to judgment." I believe Jesus said this because "anger" lies behind murder and hateful epithets create a spirit of vengeance and cruelty which stand in total opposition to the way of love. 
    Jesus said: "But I say to you , everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Jesus teaches that sin comes from within. That is why we accept Christ crucified who has conquered sin and whose Spirit dwells within us, so that instead of being evil and adulterous we can be kind kind and faithful by the power of the Holy Spirit. An evil intention of adultery (I am not speaking here about temptation; I am speaking about evil intentions) can lead to serious acts of injustice and unchastity. When Jesus spoke about the truth He was adamant.
    "Do not take a false oath," He said:  "Let your 'Yes' mean 'yes' and your 'no' mean 'no.'  Anything more is from the evil one." Jesus does not countenance any of this nonsense going around today about playing with the truth. Distorting the truth, deliberately misspeaking or undermining the truth, is highly offensive to God. I am not speaking about the rights of confidentiality which have to be respected. Neither am I speaking about detraction which is the sin of telling the truth to ruin a person's reputation and is morally wrong. I am speaking about disrespect for the truth because Jesus is the Truth.
    Let me conclude this homily with Jesus' own words:  "I tell you unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven." I think we have to take the Sermon on the Mount very seriously.
    Bishop Stephen Blaire



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