Elijah is not politically correct, he does not shake hands with the evil king. There is no sportsmanship, no gentleman’s handshake after the contest of the Gods. Elijah makes certain Ahab knows who the true God is, and he makes sure he knows which God is responsible for the rain. No sympathy is shown. Ahab’s defeat is humiliating, and that is the first step in being humble. Jesus mentions the humble, but that is hundreds of years later. The point is that Elijah wanted all involved to know that worshiping a false God is an abomination. This is weighty matter. It is a criminal offense, and leads to spiritual and mortal death. Elijah has the prophets of Baal executed. Serious stuff, so different from our world of relativism. Our grayed down politically correct fantasy. Enough.1 Kgs 18:41-46
Jesus in his lecture to the disciples makes sure his disciples understand his is not a liberal gospel. His is not a legal interpretation of law, but a moral one. While eloquent speech might convince an elder of a guilty person’s innocence, the divine does not barter. It is not what I can do, and what can I get away with. It is what is right. What is correct. What is righteous? What one can get away with in a courtroom, one cannot get away with in heaven.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.
Why, I wonder, did the Christ give this talk? Mt 5:20-26 I think it might be due to His shift in authority in the enforcement of The Law. God’s law then, unlike now, was enforced in court. With Jesus though obedience to The Law was between man and God. Think of the criminal offenses He committed. Eating without ritual washing, Gleaning wheat on the Sabbath and healing on the same day. Criminal offenses of the day, but not in the eyes of the divine. Certainly what he taught the disciples regarding the law had shifted from the traditional practices of the day, and with that there was the danger of misinterpretation. There was the danger the disciples could turn into careless liberals doing whatever they please. Today’s gospel reminds them their responsibility increased rather than diminished.
I used the term “liberals” which has a political connotation. With the letter of the law loosing importance over its spirit, the disciples could have let liberal interpretations drift into ignorance and abandonment. It would certainly have been easy for them to adopt a devil-may-care attitude, but certainly Jesus knew to be on the lookout. To today’s political enthusiast one might see this as a warning against liberalism as we know it, but things are about to make a turn. Regarding The Law, Jesus did not turn against the liberal, His argument was against the conservative. It was against the traditionalist, and even the fundamentalist. Both Liberalism and Conservatism are a far cry from Righteousness. Come Holy Spirit.