A special thank you this week to our friends from the Perales family and St. Benedict Parish, Chicago, in the congregation
Jason: Our gospel today that we hear certainly invites us to look deeply at our commitments and look deeply to make sure that we’re following not only the letter of law but the meaning behind the law as well. And so in order to talk about that a little bit more specifically, I’m going to ask two young ladies to join me up here so we could talk about, not only the letter of the law but the spirit of the law. So come on, stand right here. Good.
So when I was growing up a long time ago, I had an older sister and a younger brother. And the thing was that we would always have to sit in the backseat of the car, and there was just enough room for the three of us. My sister was older, I was second, and then my little brother, right? So what would happen alongside…along the ride in the car is that sometimes, we would get a little bit pokey. You know how that goes? We would poke one another a little bit. We would poke one another a little bit. And then my mom would say, “Mom, Jason is poking me. Jason’s touching me.” And so my mom from the front seat would say, “Don’t touch your brother. Don’t touch your sister.” So I wouldn’t touch them, but I would say… And then they would complain and I’d say, “But I’m not touching them. I’m not touching them. I’m not touching them, mom. I’m not touching them.” I was true to the law. I was not touching my brother or my sister. I was not touching them. Was I still bothering them?
Jason: Yes, yes. I was true to the law, but I missed the spirit of the law, right? What my mom was trying to say was, “Leave your brother and leave your sister alone. Don’t touch them. Don’t wiggle your finger in their face. Don’t go on to their space. Leave them alone,” right? And so I was true to the letter of the law but not true to the spirit of the law. I know you ladies never do that.
Jason: Good. Good, good. Okay, good. You can have a seat. Thanks, ladies. Well done. Well done. That’s what Jesus is getting at in the gospel today. He’s telling us there’s the letter of the law and there’s the spirit of the law. And Jesus really pushes the spirit of the law pretty, pretty deep. He says, “You heard that it was told ‘Don’t kill,’ but I’m saying ‘Don’t also be angry.’ Not only don’t kill, don’t also be angry. You heard said, ‘Don’t commit adultery.’ I’m also saying, ‘Look at everything that happens in your heart as you lust after others.'” Jesus says, “Don’t just follow the letter of the law but the spirit of the law as well.”
So as we gather together today, we think about God’s 10 commandments, how God calls us to love our brothers and sisters. And we hang on to not just the letter but the spirit of all those laws that Jesus gives us, especially love our brothers and sisters, love the Lord our God. You know, sometimes, I go and I talk to the little kids in the school, in preschool, in first grade, in kindergarten and I ask them, “Tell me, does God call them 10 commandments or 10 suggestions?” A lot of time, I get “10 suggestions.” And we know, we know that they’re not 10 suggestions but rather, these are God’s commandments for us to live with him in righteousness, in love, in generosity and hope.
And so, as we gather together this weekend, as we gather for this sacred Mass, perhaps we think about how we might be able to push even more deeply our love for our brothers and sisters, our commitments so that our “yes” means “yes” and our “no” means “no,” our generosity to our brothers and sisters always. Jesus challenged us not just to the letter of the law but to the spirit of the law, and we call ourselves to respond lovingly.