SERMON OF THE WEEK
October 28, 2012
Next Sunday is the 7th Sunday after after Sleebo. Gospel reading is from St. Mathew 5:20-27.
Theme: Righteousness in God's Laws: "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.....You have herd that it was said to those of old, you shall not murder.....but I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall also 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." (Mathew 5:20-22)
Jesus had a special relationship to God's will and purpose. Jesus tried to fulfill them by believing in the righteousness of God's laws. It is not merely fulfilling the legal definitions or interprettions of the laws.
What is righteousness for God is not just following God's laws. For Jesus, God's righteousness goes far deeper and involves more than that. Righteousness is not a contract between God and man. It is not about what you can do to get away with or without violating the letter of the law.
Jesus talks, for example, about God's law which says, "Do not kill". This is one of the Commandments. Whoever kills shall be liable for judgment. That is God's law. It is inclusive of many deeper meanings. Jesus says God's law "Do not kill" actually has deeper meaning. It is not just do not murder each other, but also includes not to be angry with another or demean others by insults. If one has not fulfilled those things, the person is liable for the same judgment as murdering other person.
It was a common assumption in Jesus' times that righteousness was something that is limited to external obedience of the law. Jesus says the seed of murder begins earlier than the final act. The act goes way back in angry words and insults. For Jesus, the real death occurs much earlier by those angry words and other forms of insults. Righteousness is more than external obedience of the law. It is not how much we get away with legal definitions of the law.
A murderer who escaped conviction on the basis of technicality of the law in Los Angeles a few years ago is a case in point. A famous football player escaped conviction for committing a double murder due to a technicality of the law. The police detective who took blood samples from the crime scene due to some explained reasons delayed to submit it to the lab, according to the defense. Althoug the delay was for only six hours, the defense argued that the blood samples from the crime sscene might have been contaminated due its delay in submiitting to the lab. On the basis of technical error, the defense won the case.
Righteousness is not based on technicality of the law. It is the relationship that springs out of the right heart, mind, and soul. Righteousness is connected with well-being and harmony. That is the law of God which Jesus came to fulfill.
God's will is for reconciliation. Jesus says not to proceed in worship the Lord until you have sought reconciliation. Where we have right relationship with others, that is an act of worship.
Jesus' message offers wonderful hope for us. There is no point in priding outselves saying that we have not killed anyone. Our anger and thoughtless words will also cause small deaths in others. Jesus says righteousness in more than legal. It has many moral implications. Righteouness is more than merely conforming to the letter of the law.It is that thought or act that makes us clean from the inside out.
What we need is not righteousness from our point of view. We need more than that. We need Christ in us for righteous behavior.
Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil