Fifth Sunday After Epiphany | Matthew 5:13-20
There is no privacy around God.
God is in our houses and in our yards, on the sidewalk, at our offices and workplaces. Worst of all, God is in our minds, the little corners and dark boxes of our hearts where we thought we had hidden the things that would make other people think less of us. Or point at us. Or at the very least pretend that they are better than us and would never do, never think, never feel the terrible and the petty things that we have done and thought and felt.
God has known them all, and that may be the most terrifying aspect of God.
If Jesus is to be believed, God knows these things and loves us, without reservation. Knowing all of it, God loves us.
For some, that is great and well received news, the gospel itself. For the rest of us, not so sure about receiving unabashed love from an unseen God, it takes some getting used to.
Salt. Light. Cities on hills. These are tasted, seen, entered into, or they are of no purpose. Jesus says that if we are not seen, if our lives cannot be touched and tasted, if we are not open to other people, then we are of little use.
There is so little privacy around people anyway, we say. Our lives are open, we are seen, and more than we care to know is known about us. Most of us may be read as plainly as these words may be read, if a person has learned the skill of reading.
The law was clear. Leviticus and Deuteronomy. (That should be an exclamation—“Leviticus and Deuteronomy! — along the lines of “Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!”)
We read all of those rules the ancient people lived by — what to eat, what to wear, most of all how to act toward other people, toward God — and we hear Jesus saying that if we have broken the least rule, then we are the least soul in God’s kingdom, at the bottom of the great heap of souls.
We are all on the bottom of the heap. This heap has no top, not even a middle, just flat bottom all the way.
Yet the law itself was not meant as a burden. The law was a way of life, the way of life, the way to live in this life. It was not a means to an end, not a key that fits the gate of the next life.
How then could this man Jesus be the fulfillment of the way to live? What does it mean to fulfill the way of life?
Life was never about the rules. It is always about the love.
Do not murder, since it is against the rules, we say? Love one another, and we will not cause harm.
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. — Isaiah 11:9