(6th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
St Matthew wrote his Gospel addressing Jewish converts who had come to recognised Jesus as the Messiah.
The first five books of the Old Testament, namely the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, are collectively known as the Torah. In the Gospel of Matthew, there is a structure based on the Torah. It is because St Matthew addressed the Jewish converts who were very familiar with the Torah, and he wanted them to see how in the person of Jesus was the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies, and therefore He was the long awaited Messiah. Knowing St Matthew’s intentions give us a better sense of the opening remarks by Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel passage: “I came not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.” He went on to say: “You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: but I say this to you….”. His words, His teachings, appear to override the old Law!. Who can ‘override’ God’s law but God Himself!
Laws can be something so ‘cold’ and heartless. Jesus taught that merely trying to keep the precepts of the ancient Law was not enough. Observing them must be something from the heart. Our external actions must be a reflection of what we really are like. For example, it is not enough for others to see us performing the actions of a Christian – our whole attitude in life must be Christian. It is not enough to be seen to be upright, we must be upright in heart too.