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To be saved by Christ we must all be completely open to God's Spirit

By Fr Patrick McCafferty

In the Sermon on the Mount, portions of which many Christians will hear proclaimed at worship this weekend, the Lord Jesus takes God's commandments to a higher level (Matthew 5:17-37).

He expands upon them and explains, more fully and profoundly, their implications for human living. With the fullness of Divine Revelation given in the New Testament, He every much simplifies them for us.

The challenge is put to us in succinct terms: "If you wish, you can keep the commandments, to behave faithfully is within your power... Man has life and death before him; whichever a man likes better will be given him" (Ecclesiasticus 15:16-21).

The Ten Commandments, given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, cover ever eventuality of human life, in relation to God and our fellow human beings. The Law of the Lord is revealed for the right-ordering of life and, when it is faithfully observed, human life flourishes in peace and harmony.

The New Moses, Jesus Christ, who is leading us to the promised land of Eternal Life, completes the Ten Commandments and brings them to fulfilment.

The original law was intended to govern and regulate external behaviour.

The Sermon on the Mount announces the entrance of God's Law into the depths of human hearts.

To put it simply: the spirit of God's Law is revealed, by Jesus, as loving reverence for the dignity and worth of our fellow human beings.

Thus, it is simply no longer enough merely to refrain from physically wounding other people.

We are bound, before God, to do away also with wicked, hurtful and insulting words.

On account of the Lord Jesus' clear teaching, it is no longer only harmful physical activity towards others that breaks God's commandments; but also attitudes, words and mentalities, that denigrate other human beings.

Every vestige of hatred lurking in our hearts must be brought into God's light. Every disguise of sin must be unmasked.

Our Lord gives this warning: "For I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20).

In other words, to be saved, we must be opened completely to God's Spirit, asking that His love permeate the deepest depths of our beings.

We must be wholly available to love in the here and now - love as integral to every aspect of our humanity - and central to our interactions with others.

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