Advent 23-50: Aspire to the Divine

Advent Day 23 of 50: Aspire to the Divine

“You have heard,” says Jesus as he points to laws from, what we call, the Old Testament. And in the next breath he says, “But I tell you…” Thus far we’ve heard him put forward a revolutionary new way of interacting with people – with one another.

I waited for this day to share with you Jesus’ words about his intention. He says, Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20)

With Jesus the law was completed. On the Cross, his final words, “It is finished” alludes to the completion of the law. The revolution Jesus brings is encased in his essential teachings, that is, the text of our Advent Journey: the Sermon on the Mount. It is not enough to follow the law, but his call to live life so that, “Your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees.” Jesus calls us to a higher standard than the law, he asks us to aspire to the divine. “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) By aspiring to the divine, he calls us to live by the way of God, that is love. God is Love, says the Evangelist John in his first letter (chapter 4). And so, the call is to Love.

Thus far, love instead of hate, because hate is murder. Love instead of divorce, for divorce opens the doors to adultery. Love your enemies because your enemy is also a child of God, and God does not differentiate between his children.

Let us pray, the Orthodox church’s canon, O Almighty Word of the Father, Jesus Christ, Who art Thyself perfect: Because of Thy great mercy, do not ever depart from me, Thy servant, but always abide in me. Amen.

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