Voices ever ancient, ever new. Ordinary Time Week 6: Sunday.

“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)

In an ancient work known as the Incomplete Work on Matthew, an anonymous ancient Christian writer offers the following insight on these verses from today’s Gospel:

“The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees is found in the commandments of Moses, whereas the fulfillment of those commandments is found in the commandments of Christ. So this is what he says: Unless a person, in addition to the commandments of the law, fulfills these precepts of mine that people may believe to be unimportant, he shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. The former may free a person from punishment imposed on transgressors of the law, but they do not bring a person into the kingdom. The latter free a person from punishment and introduce him into the kingdom. On this point of abolishing and not keeping the least of these commandments, he says about the lawbreaker: “Whoever does away with one of these least commandments shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven,” meaning that even if that person is least he is still in the kingdom. But why does he say concerning the nonobservant person that unless the righteousness of the Christian exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, that one shall not enter the kingdom of heaven? For whoever does not enter the kingdom of heaven will be outside the kingdom. On this, note that to be least in the kingdom is the same as not entering the kingdom. For to be someone in the kingdom is not the same as to reign with Christ but only to be among Christ’s people. It is as though he said, He who does not keep the law though he teaches it will indeed be among the Christians, but he will be the least Christian, or with the least of the Christians. But he who enters the kingdom will share in the kingdom with Christ, as is said elsewhere about the good servant: “Enter into the joy of your master”; that is to say, rejoice together with your Lord. Hence that person who does not enter the kingdom of heaven will certainly not possess the glory of the kingdom of heaven with Christ, though he will be in the kingdom, that is, counted among those over whom Christ the king of heaven reigns.” (Homily 11)

O God,
Who teach us that You abide
in hearts that are just and true,
grant that we may be so fashioned by Your grace
as to become a dwelling pleasing to You.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to You Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning is now
and will be forever. Amen. Alleluia!