Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 13:2.5-18; Matthew 7:6.12-14)
In the Sermon on the Mount Matthew portrays Jesus as a great sage. He shows him first proposing the “kingdom of heaven” as the happiness which all discerning people seek. Then Jesus is described a revealing the new morality which will enable his disciples to reach their goal. It is composed not so much of actions as of a disposition of the heart. They are not to despise or will to harm anyone but to love even their enemies. Of course, this tall order requires assistance so Matthews shows Jesus teaching his disciples how to ask God’s help. In today’s passage from the sermon Jesus adds to the wisdom he has imparted proverbs that illustrate what he has been saying.
With the first proverb Jesus warns his disciples not to be naïve about what they believe. People who have not been prepared to receive it will revile it. Tell a man of the world that he should keep quiet about the good that he has done, and he will wonder why you thought he did it if not to achieve the approval of others. Then Jesus epitomizes his message as he sums up the Old Testament: his disciples are to consider what they wish for themselves as the measure of what they will do to others. The passage ends with another warning. Disciples should not think the road to heaven is a lazy highway. It is more like – Jesus tells them – a winding path which requires focus and care to navigate.
As a truly wise man, Jesus could not please everyone. For different reasons some opposed his teachings just as Socrates found detractors in ancient Athens. Following the ways he teaches will not always win for us either the approval of others. However, we know from experience that doing so brings repose in the form of a friendly conscience as well as the promises of eternal life.