Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ, once stated “I watch what I do to see what I really believe. Belief and faith are not just words. It’s one thing for me to say I’m a Christian, but I have to embody what it means; I have to live it.”
Much of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is about the Ten Commandments, the ten “do’s and don’t’s” that were carved into stone and presented to the children of Israel as the basis for a covenant relationship between God and the people. However, before Jesus starts speaking about particular commandments, he makes a general statement or preface that reminds us that if we wish to be called one of the greatest in God’s kingdom, we must not pick and choose which commandments to obey and which to ignore.
In his Second Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul reminds this community that while the commandments given on Mt. Sinai might be considered glorious, those who practice the gifts of the Holy Spirit will be even more glorious. So while the commandments were given to the children of Israel, we are still bound by them through our relationship with God the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples on the night before he died that he would send his spirit who would reveal all things that are true to them. So disobeying the commandments is not a option if we are children of the Holy Spirit.
As we listen to Jesus teaching about the commandments in the coming days, he will be telling us plainly that we are not to live by the letter of the law but by the spirit of the law, and the spirit of the law points us toward a right relationship with God. The Beatitudes, the Ten Commandments, and the teaching of Jesus recorded in the Gospels, guide us to live in right relationship with our community, with a preference for those most in need, oppressed, or looked past.
Yes, we are sinners. We sometimes need forgiveness. However, that is the beautiful thing about being in relationship with God. Forgiveness is always there for everyone who tries to live out the Gospel.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator