Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Kingdom of Heaven: our "Best" or our "best offer"?

We're a culture of negotiators.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. If you like Rice Krispies, and one supermarket sells a box for $4.99 while another sells the same box for $3.99, you'll tend to buy it for the lesser price. You need to buy a new refrigerator, naturally you price hunt.

But it creeps up in other things. I accumulated $15,000 in debt on my credit card; How much do I really have to pay the company? The parish I belong to has a deadline of August 1 to submit registrations for religious education; when can I really turn it in? The speed limit on the Garden State Parkway is 65 m.p.h.; how fast can I drive without attracting the attention of the State Police? And, if I do get pulled over, what combination of cards, window stickers, and sweettalk will get the Trooper to NOT write the ticket? Sadly, we think we can negotiate with God. If I sing in the choir, can I be rude to my neighbor? If I donate food to the parish's social ministry, can I let my son/daughter share a hotel room with his/her prom date for the weekend? If the doctor tells me that there's a spot on my lung, do I expect the Just Judge to "dismiss it" if I promise not to smoke anymore?

In the Gospel today (still Matthew 5), Jesus begins to make his authority known (You have heard it said... But I say to you...) using the examples of murder and anger. Now you can't think of doing something, but not do it, and remain "righteous". Now, like the cloud mentioned in the first reading, you have to stop the storm when it's off in the distance.

The Lord set a tough standard for us to follow. It's gonna take work.

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