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February 10th 2002
Catholic Homilies
February 10th 2002

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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary time Mt 5/13-16


St. Matthew's "Sermon on the Mount" was a sermon that was never given. Rather it is a construct, a literary device, the Evangelist uses to pull together in one place teachings of Jesus which appear in different places in the earlier traditions. It is a summary of much of what Jesus said and taught (as this was remembered in later years), a compendium of his wisdom. Moreover the compendium is designed specifically for the instruction, not of the crowds to whom Jesus preached in Galilee, but of the early Christian Community. In the passage we read today Jesus, as edited by the Evangelist, is warning the early Christians that he and his good news will be judged by their behavior. It is well for Christians today to reflect on that truth. If Christianity has a terrible image with many people, it is in substantial part the fault of Christians

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Once upon a time, not too very long ago, a parish community was divided over the issue of how to respond to the tragedy of September 11. There were those who thought that this was a political issue and did not need to be evaluated in light of what they believed as followers of Jesus. After all, this was a terrible attack on the country and any means necessary to "get the bad guys" should not be subjected to religious considerations. To them the enemies obviously were unbelievers out to destroy not only our country but also our way of life and our faith. Others, though agreeing it was an unjustified assault on the country, felt that "any means necessary" needed to be subjected to questions of how these means would affect innocent people. The latter group also saw the assault as a wake up call for increased dialogue between the Catholic/Christian community and those of other faiths, not just at the top level of church leaders but also at the level of their local community. As one parishioner said, "Isn’t this what Jesus meant when he said we shouldn’t hide our faith? Isn’t it time we start to dialogue with other faiths here at our local level?"

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Isn’t it time we start to dialogue with other faiths here at our local level?"
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