“Six days after Peter had acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.” Of all of the things we humans dream about, climbing a mountain is right up there on the list. When I was in Boy Scouts about 50 years ago, our troop made an annual trek to Colorado to the Lincoln National Forest to camp out for a week. Each day we would take hikes through the wood, each one a little longer than the last. We were working up to the big hike the last day.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven;” from the Gospel according to St. Matthew. In today’s reading from the Gospel, Jesus continues to upset the norms of society. The people had a concept of justice formed by the Law of Moses, and by the interpretations of that Law. The Pharisees were the arbiters of the Law, and they did not much care for any challenges to their authority.
The Gospel reading this week is about Jesus teaching about the Law of Moses. The Pharisees were very strict about the Law, and they wanted everyone else to follow it, too. But Jesus saw something in the Pharisees that they couldn’t see. The Law that they loved so much had become more about legalism, and less about God’s purpose for his people. The Pharisees put the Law above the Lord by judging those who did not abide by it.