Would that we all would be, as St. Paul said, transformed from glory into glory. But the problem is, we get caught up in all the wrong kinds of things. Which is exactly what he was cautioning the Corinthians against, and what Jesus was condemning the Scribes and Pharisees for doing in today’s Gospel. When Moses was read among the Corinthian Church, St. Paul tells them that it was always with a certain veil over it all. And that veil kept the people from understanding the Mosaic Law’s true intent. The same could be said for the Jews in Jesus’ time. The Scribes and Pharisees had the law down to a science. But they always missed the spirit of the law. And of that Spirit, St. Paul says: “Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
And for those who follow the spirit of the law, there really is true freedom. There is freedom from getting caught up in all the minutiae. There is freedom to really serve God and other people. There is freedom to do what we were created for.
It’s always scary when Jesus starts out saying “you have heard it said that…” because he always follows up with “but what I say to you is this…” What he is doing here, though, is freeing us from the strictness of the law and opening our eyes to the spirit. So in Christ, it’s not enough just not to murder, we must also respect life in every way. We can’t just be content with not murdering or aborting, although that’s certainly a good start, but we must also be sure to tear down any kind of racism, hatred, or stereotyping. We must care for the elderly and sick and never let them be forgotten. We must never be so angry that we write people off and hold grudges. Murdering takes many forms, brothers and sisters, and we must be careful to avoid them all or be held liable for breaking the fifth commandment in spirit.
We should shine the light of God’s spirit on all of our laws and commandments and be certain that we are following them as God intended. As St. Paul said in today’s first reading, “For God who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.” May we all be free to follow the spirit of God’s law and be transformed from glory into glory.