1 Kings 21:1-16
Do you ever wake up and wish there were a quick and easy "owners manual" for how you are to lead your life? It sure would make life less stressful and challenging. Our contemporary society is one that reinforces the quick and easy solution to everything and there seems to be an application for the iPhone or iPad to solve every problem. I propose today a better application to guide The Way-iSermon. With this new download, you would have direct access to the teachings and applications found in the wisdom teachings from the Gospel of Matthew…for the Sermon on the Mount is indeed our most beautiful, faith-filled "owners manual".
I fear, however, that there would not be a world-wide queue for the release of this new application. While the temptations of the electronic Apple products are very enticing, iSermon would not offer the "easier, softer way" that our contemporary society pays big money to capture. As today’s Gospel reading explains, the answers to life’s challenges and conflicts cannot be found in shortcuts to living. The real answers are found in choosing the more difficult way. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was not preaching an easier, softer form of Judaism. Matthew’s Gospel professes a more intensified commitment to God that extends beyond the letter of the Jewish law. In addition, Jesus pointed to one of the many challenges of living in a Roman occupied society. In the occupied regions, people were often pressed into service to carry the bags of the Romans as they traveled to and fro. Jesus taught that they should not resent being pressed into service and merely carry the baggage the distance, but instead, should volunteer to go twice as far.
In all cases, Jesus is clearly saying that we cannot afford to live an "easier, softer" way. Nor can we afford to harbor feelings of resentment or anger for transgressions and hurts in our lives. Indeed, festering resentments and bottled up anger are at the heart of many mental and physical diseases that plague our world today. A profound cure is offered to us this day in the Sermon on the Mount. Popular or not, I intend to continue to "download" these teachings onto the hard-drive of my life and pray that I may be transformed.
Angela Howell ([email protected]) is a retreatant and volunteer at Mater Dolorosa Passionists Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California.