Advent Day 10 of 50: Greater than God
Advent Day 10 of During this period of Advent, we are encountering the Essential Teachings of Jesus as he expressed them in the Sermon on the Mount. Today we continue to look at the harsh contrast between the Old and New Testaments, especially as it is presented in this passage about murder. Jesus equates murder with anger. “You have heard that it was said to those of old,” Jesus says, “‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” For Jesus, sincerity of heart is of primary importance. But the contrast twixt Old and New is perhaps nowhere so pronounces as when Jesus offers the solution to our anger.
He continues, “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Truly this prescription is in stark contrast to the Old Covenant. In the Ten Commandments, the code of the Old Testament God is not to be overshadowed by anyone or anything. The first two commandments, articulated by God are as follows:
“You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God….” (Exodus 20:3-6)
For Jesus, our reconciliation with one another is more important than God! “… leave your gift there before the altar,” he instructs, “and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Lip service did not interest Jesus. Actions were necessary to back up the words of our mouth. The love we have with one another is our expression of the love we have for God. This was so central to Jesus’ teaching that it was codified, in a sense, in the writing of St. John the Evangelist.
Today, we leave with a mediation from the Letter of St. John, chapter 4:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. … Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. … If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (4:7-20)
Cover Photo: Luna & Gregory Beylerian