6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Other Mountain

I suppose we would find it hard to imagine being in the presence of Jesus and not recognizing him. It's hard to imagine that He would be just another face in the crowd, and that there would be nothing remarkable or exceptional that would make him stand out from all the rest.

But it wasn't that way – people misunderstood, they missed the point; I imagine many may have walked by Jesus without feeling anything out of the ordinary ...and they needed a special sign in order to recognize Him. And the same is true today.

In today's passage from Matthew's Gospel , we listen to a passage within the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus leads us higher and higher up this "other mountain." We're moving onto the loftier planes of greater faith and love. Jesus is very specific ; if we choose to follow Him, then it isn't enough just to avoid murder, or adultery, perjury or divorce. He challenges us to heroic love, a love that will not settle for keeping the letter of the law.

On this "other mountain" we try to walk in the footsteps of our Teacher and Lord. We're not satisfied with avoiding serious sin or doing only what we absolutely have to do. We know that we are called higher. We move beyond the cold, mechanical letter of the law to touch the spirit of the Gospel teaching. 

It's a great temptation for most of us to want to be LIKE everyone else and to BE LIKED BY everyone else. Usually, that means lowering our standards; it involves compromise, and an unwillingness to be different. Jesus makes it very clear that we should not be trying to please other people, but rather God our Father, who invites us to keep working for the high ideal of a perfection that mirrors His own goodness and holiness. 

Life on this "other mountain" could be quite extraordinary. There would be no anger, no abusive language, no simmering resentments and rivalries, no unbridled sexual abuse, no casual attitude toward commitment in relationships, no lip service to justice and truth. Our attitudes would reflect the spirit of Jesus in all things - compassion, forgiveness, self control , and a single-hearted dedication to loving God above all things and our neighbors as ourselves.

Living the Gospel could change the quality of life at home, at work, at play and at worship. But this is no easy task. Heroic love cannot be bought in a bargain basement. It is the result of climbing, higher and higher; it involves profound commitment, real self-sacrifice and, most of all, a loving, personal loyalty to Jesus. 

The act of faith is a journey, a series of moments when God becomes real – a conscious personal relationship with God that reaches fulfillment within community. And it must be grounded in the mature act of faith that was expressed by Jesus Himself. 

We are drawn to the story of Jesus because this story reveals not only who God is, but also our ability as human beings to give expression to God's Spirit. We use this story to articulate our understanding of life and of who we are. If we can make the story of Jesus our own story then the reign of God would indeed be seen among us and Christianity would have something of great value to share and explore with all people who search for the meaning of human existence.

If we can take what we learn on the "other mountain" we can unite together in our convictions about the sacredness of human life and the world would indeed be a better place.