5 February 2023
Our reading today is still placed within the “Sermon on the Mount” literature. It’s got some interesting and puzzling bits in it, and I think our challenge is to look deeply into the words and meanings that are being used here.
We begin with the instruction not to judge in order that we ourselves are not judged. It basically says that the markers we use to judge those around us will be used on us, so be careful. It reminds me of our Covenant of Community that we worked on last year and probably needs us to continue that work. I find it surprising how many times I look into a reading only to find that covenant staring back at me.
I think I can safely say that not judging is a really hard thing. We all have our own standards, or standards that we’ve been taught, that not everyone would agree with. Judgement can condemn someone to a path of action or ‘label’ that could be unfair or unjust. Not judging hopefully allows us to respect and welcome a person to our community. No matter how they look, where they come from, what their ethnic, cultural or gender identification, we do not judge but accept and welcome. Easy to say, not so easy to do.
Our reading also reminds us to ask, search and knock and we will find, receive and be opened unto. It also talks about the Golden Rule. This is another version of Jesus’ love your neighbour as yourself, and it is probably the ‘rule’ that those who would not call themselves Christian hang onto to guide them – do unto others as you would have them do unto you (paraphrased). I remember my grandfather claiming not to be a religious man but insisting that this Golden Rule was what he lived by.
Our first section of the reading ends with the narrow gate. Now many may dismiss these couple of verses (13 and 14) but let’s be honest and say that to follow the ways of Jesus are not easy. There are many distractions and false trails in life that make it hard to find that door let alone go through it. This is what we need to keep working on – removing or ignoring those distractions.
We finish with the houses built on the rock and the sand. We would normally assume that the symbolism of the rock here is God. That to build our lives, our families, our homes wisely God and God’s instructions must be our foundations. And yes, that is very true. But in a world where even well-built houses and wise owners are losing their houses as changes in weather and the ground are causing them fall and be ruined, what else can we take from this instruction? I’ll let you see if you come up with any discoveries, and feel free to share.