9TH JUNE 2022
MORE RIGHTEOUSNESS MORE TASTE.
In today's Gospel reading Jesus says to his disciples, " Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus affirms that the scribes and the Pharisees are righteous people but we have to be more righteous than them.
By saying so, Jesus is inviting us into a possibility of doing more than what is required.
Who is a righteous person? Matthew 1:18-25 says the following about Joseph when he discovers that Mary was with child through the Holy Spirit, " Joseph her husband,since he was a righteous man,yet unwilling to expose her to shame , decided to divorce her quietly."
In the above situation, Joseph had the option of publicly divorcing Mary as the law says but he decides to do it silently.
Other Bible translations instead of using the word righteous use the word just; it means that a righteous person is a just person .So Joseph went above and beyond the requirements of the law just as Jesus wants his disciples to do.
How righteous were the scribes and the Pharisees? When Jesus says , "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ' You shall not kill and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment ', he is showing that not killing is need righteous but not getting angry is even more righteous because anger can make you kill and if you can avoid anger you are on the right path.
Jesus has set high standards for them to point to them that there's an expectation for certain excellence in faith. Jesus uses the repeated formula of,''You have heard that it was said...but I say to you..." not to introduce a new list of rules but to direct us to the intention of the law.
In the example that we have looked into of not killing, the intention is purely not to kill and so avoiding anger leads you to live according to that intention.
Being more righteous than the scribes and the Pharisees means living according to the intention of the law.Being more righteous than the scribes and the Pharisees indicates that what a person does is only part of the problem.More righteousness demands radical discipleship so that a person's thoughts are transformed by contact with God's reign.
A radical discipleship brought about by more righteousness avoids what is superficial which we know means appearing to be true or real until examined more clearly.
There is a proverb that says: too many cooks spoil the broth and it alludes to each of many cooks adding something to a soup which will finally taste awful. It means one cook is enough.
In relation to this - can we say that exceeding righteousness spoils the broth of our faith and spirituality? It doesn’t, it only makes us to be more tasty and effective in the reign of God's kingdom remembering that in Tuesday's Gospel reading Jesus said , " You are the salt of the earth; but if salt loses its taste how shall it's saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men."