Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
(I Kings 17:7-16; Matthew 5:13-16)
According to social philosopher David Brooks people like to think of themselves as good. Yet they find themselves, as always, giving in to selfishness and other vices. How do they live with the contradiction? They mix and match trying to keep themselves on the positive side of the moral ledger. For example, they may cheat on their income tax by saying that everybody does it. At the same time they may give fifty dollars to the Peter’s Pence collection. Such moral calculus hardly approaches what Jesus has in mind in the gospel today.
Jesus wants his disciples to be perfect. They are to give good example and, indeed, attract others by their moral rectitude. In fact, they are to live in such exemplary ways that their neighbors will thank God for having them in their midst.
We should never justify immoral acts by saying that everyone does them. The statement is false and in any case does not live up to Jesus’ expectations. Some moralists criticize using as a guide to good behavior, “What would Jesus do?” Perhaps it is difficult to extrapolate Jesus’ actions to modern society. But we can certainly ask, “What does Jesus want us to do?” We hear him telling us in the gospel today to act as a model for everyone to follow.