Fathers of the first six Ecumenical Councils
(Falls annually between July 13-19)
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14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. 17 "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
14 u`mei/j evste to. fw/j tou/ ko,smouÅ ouv du,natai po,lij krubh/nai evpa,nw o;rouj keime,nh\ 15 ouvde. kai,ousin lu,cnon kai. tiqe,asin auvto.n u`po. to.n mo,dion avllV evpi. th.n lucni,an( kai. la,mpei pa/sin toi/j evn th/| oivki,a|Å 16 ou[twj lamya,tw to. fw/j u`mw/n e;mprosqen tw/n avnqrw,pwn( o[pwj i;dwsin u`mw/n ta. kala. e;rga kai. doxa,swsin to.n pate,ra u`mw/n to.n evn toi/j ouvranoi/jÅ 17 Mh. nomi,shte o[ti h=lqon katalu/sai to.n no,mon h' tou.j profh,taj\ ouvk h=lqon katalu/sai avlla. plhrw/saiÅ 18 avmh.n ga.r le,gw u`mi/n\ e[wj a'n pare,lqh| o` ouvrano.j kai. h` gh/( ivw/ta e]n h' mi,a kerai,a ouv mh. pare,lqh| avpo. tou/ no,mou( e[wj a'n pa,nta ge,nhtaiÅ 19 o]j eva.n ou=n lu,sh| mi,an tw/n evntolw/n tou,twn tw/n evlaci,stwn kai. dida,xh| ou[twj tou.j avnqrw,pouj( evla,cistoj klhqh,setai evn th/| basilei,a| tw/n ouvranw/n\ o]j dV a'n poih,sh| kai. dida,xh|( ou-toj me,gaj klhqh,setai evn th/| basilei,a| tw/n ouvranw/nÅ
Larger Thought Unit
After the famous beatitudes, our section begins by focusing on the disciples’ place and mission. The context here is the prophetic role and mission of the disciples in relation to Israel and the Gentiles. Matthew cleverly ends this section by stressing the full force and sanctity of the Mosaic law as expressive of God’s will and that his interpretation of that law is in full harmony with it until it is completely fulfilled. Remember again the full context of this section as a law given directly by Christ to his disciples on his own mountain in Galilee.
Last Sunday’s reading ended with an appeal to seek God’s righteousness. The reference to this righteousness brackets today’s reading. The section on the beatitudes finishes with the following statement revolving around the persecution of the righteous ones: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mt 5.10-12) The conclusion of today’s reading, which is an integral part of the gospel pericope, is: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (v.20).
Furthermore the connection with last Sunday’s reading can be found in the reference to “light,” which is the light that the gospel carries. The previous reading spoke of that light in conjunction with the life as mandated by the gospel. Here the light refers to the gospel teaching that is to be carried to the entire world—Jews as well as Gentiles. As Paul taught, the gospel to the Gentiles is nothing other than the word of God consigned in the Old Testament (Rom 1.1-2). That is why Jesus makes it clear here that God’s kingdom is bound to the Law and the Prophets, even its iota—the iota being the smallest of the Hebrew alphabetical letters. However, while the Pharisees teach God’s word but do not always live it (Mt 23.2-3), Jesus’ disciples are to do both if they want to be “great” in the kingdom, that is, to be seated in the seats of honor: “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (19.28)