Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
"The Sermon On The Mount"
- February 13, 2011
In Jesusâ€™s time, the Law had a sacredness and a saving value. For most Jews it was the definitive revelation of God. The main promoters of this point of view were the Scribes and Pharisees. However, as the message of Jesus spread beyond Judaea, even to the pagan countries civilized by Greece, different perspectives developed between the Law and the Gospel. The New Testament contains accounts of all these differing points of view.
Matthewâ€™s Gospel, particularly the Sermon on the Mount, attempts to present Jesusâ€™s attitude to the Law in the context of the early Jewish community .
Jesus begins by stating that his mission was not to repudiate the Law and call it into question, but to fulfil it, to bring it to perfection. What does this perfection consist of? Itâ€™s found in a relationship of trust and love with Jesus, whom the Father has sent, not in the material fulfilling of whatever the Law demands.
This is best expressed later in the New Testament, when Paul says that the righteousness given by the Law does not bring salvation, but faith in Jesus does. This is why the Sermon on the Mount challenges the disciples to live by a higher standard than that of the Scribes and Pharisees.
If the Law condemns someone for murder, Jesus goes further still. He wants the very roots of anger and vengeance which lead to murder removed completely. He declares that forgiveness and reconciliation among oneâ€™s own is more important than offering sacrifice.
The Law condemns adulterous behaviour. Jesus insists that even the lustful thought and desire are evil, and one must spare no pain in removing them.
And most of all, when the Law teaches one to love oneâ€™s neighbour and hate oneâ€™s enemy, Jesus demands that his discipleâ€™s love become all inclusive, embracing enemy, sinner and unbeliever alike, just as God does.
So itâ€™s not ritual observance and mechanical obedience which brings the Law to perfection within us, but when thereâ€™s a change in our attitude. Thatâ€™s when our hearts are transformed.