My Dear Sisters and Brothers! What can be done with expectations which are found challenging and difficult? They can be dismissed as unreal. It then create an illusion that the problem has been solved. However it hasn’t been solved it has been only declared solved. The problem still exists like the drink driving problem would still exist on the lane designated for drink driving people.
The Gospel passage for this Sunday offers us a solution as Our Blessed Lord says: “I have come not to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come to complete them.” How did he want to complete them? By lovingly, patently but also firmly teaching us about the truth. In 1993 Saint John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor (The Splendour of truth) wrote: “People today need to turn to Christ once again in order to receive from him the answer to their questions about what is good and what is evil.”
It doesn’t deserve a Noble Price to state that we are weak as humans. But it deserve God’s grace when we state that we are weak as we stand in the presence of God. Jesus, as we can see him conversing with his disciples in the Gospel this Sunday, is setting the evangelical standards high. Is he unrealistic? He would be if he didn’t see these standards in the light of God’s tender mercy. The part of the Sermon on the Mount we have today moves the discussions on whether it is realistic to follow those high standards or not from the legalistic and purely human argumentation to the deeper level, in fact it goes right to the heart. Someone has counted that the word heart occurs 600 times in the Old Testament and more than 210 times in the New Testament. A popular word, isn’t it? The New Testament shaped by life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ never uses the word heart to describe the physical organ. A theologian offers this insight: “The heart is the center of everything. The heart is the central altar and the body is the outer court. What we offer on the altar of the heart will tell ultimately through the extremities of the body.” “Go deeper” said Jesus, if you are shocked by the teaching on the seriousness of anger, lustful looks, divorce and the sacredness of human word. The same theologian Oswald Chambers wrote: “Thinking takes place in the heart, not in the brain. The real spiritual powers of a person reside in the heart, which is the centre of the physical life, of the soul life, and of the spiritual life. The expression of thinking is referred to the brain and the lips because through these organs thinking becomes articulate.” That’s why Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori, who died 230 years ago exhausted from helping ordinary people to live a Godly life, said: "God does not refuse anyone the grace of prayer through which one can obtain the help to overcome every concupiscence and every temptation. And I declare and repeat, and will always repeat as long as I live, that all our welfare is to be found in prayer". He also declared: "The one who prays will be saved, the one who does not pray will be lost."
My Dear Friends in Christ! If you find that some teachings of Christ are unrealistic or impossible to follow don’t pray to Christ to change them. Instead pray so that your heart could be changed. May the words of the great prophet Isaiah spoken in the name of God: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways” stimulate us to “go deeper”, right to the heart, as only God can change it. Then God’s thoughts will be our thoughts too and we too, like our Blessed Lord, will walk in the ways of God with our problems solved not simply declared that they are not problems any more.
I would like to finish with the prayer with which Saint John Paul II finished his Encyclical Veritatis Splendor: ”O Mary, Mother of Mercy, watch over all people, that the Cross of Christ may not be emptied of its power, that man may not stray from the path of the good or become blind to sin, but may put his hope ever more fully in God who is "rich in mercy.” May he carry out the good works prepared by God beforehand and so live completely "for the praise of his glory.”