Sixth Sunday after Epiphany year A
I was telling Sherry a few days ago that this might be a hard gospel reading to do a sermon on. Episcopalians are as aware as anyone else in knowing that we are flawed but we are not real big on focusing on it. These three readings really give us no wiggle room do they.
In the first reading, Deuteronomy, we are given a choice. We can obey the commandments, loving the lord your God and walking in his ways. If we do not we will perish. Deuteronomy encourages us to make the right choice.
In the second reading Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians: “for as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations.” He tells them they are acting typically human but he expects more.
Then there is Matthew chapter 5. Chapter five begins with the sermon on the mount. Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the pure in heart. Later in Mat. 5-13 he tells his followers, “you are the salt of the earth.” In 5-17 Jesus assures us, “Do not think I have come to abolish the law or the prophets, I have come to fulfill them.” Then we get to today’s reading and he gets to the heart of the law. He tells us it is not enough to refrain from killing someone, you should not even get angry with them. He tells us its not enough to not commit adultery because it you even think about it you are in trouble. He also tells us we had better have a very good reason if we get divorced.
We talked about this gospel reading on Tuesday during bible study and several of us came to the conclusion that Jesus was having a bad day. Still, what he says makes sense.
When I was taking classes on the management of student, especially emotionally disabled students, one thing they emphasized was that we catch a behavior at its onset. Here is an example of this: Lets say a student has a habit of throwing things and you notice that before he does it he looks across the room and at the same time sets his pencil down. That is the time to address the behavior and not to wait until he has actually starts hurling objects. Trust me, you get to where you can spot those antecedent behaviors if you pay close attention. Have you ever had someone like your mother or father or in my case a spouse say, “don't even think about it!” That's what I am talking about. Catch them while a behavior is in the “thinking about it” stage and stop it there.
This can apply to us. You know there are antecedent behaviors before we do anything. That is when the grown up inside of us needs to take charge and say, “Fred! Don't even think about it!” I don't know about you but I am going to work on my behavior and antecedent behaviors all week. I will let you know how it goes.