Last week, in Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” And in John 8:12, Jesus said: Ï am the light of the world.”
What does it mean? If we put the two together, what we have is Jesus is saying, “I am with you. Together we bring new light and brightness and hope and all the things that have been hidden through the ages. I will not do it alone. I will do it with you.” It means, at every moment of our lives, whether we’re asleep, awake, eating, praying, laughing and mourning, we continue to be one with the light of the world - Jesus Christ.
In today’s Gospel Reading, Jesus is telling us what it means: “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
In the Old Testament, righteousness means those who follow the covenant that God established with his people. They followed the covenant and the law and this was what made them righteous.
Righteousness means they would be right with God, they would be right with their brothers and sisters, and they would be right with the whole world.
It also meant that they were to live out this covenant according to the way that they would follow, and what they were going to follow was the law. The law was not just the Ten Commandments, but the whole Old Testament’
But for Jesus righteousness is something a little bit different. He says, “You will follow as I do. You will be people who have faith, not a law but faith. And that faith means a faith in me, and a faith in each other, and a faith that will move life forward.”
It means that the Old Testament is now being fulfilled and the New Testament is love. Love is the beginning, the middle and the end.
We follow a person. Jesus Christ, whom the Father loves, that we might walk with him, hand in hand, through this world. And in putting our faith in him, it means we are giving our lives to him and we walk with him through the wonderful happy days but also through the dreadful, sorrowful days.
Because to walk with Jesus is to experience that no matter what comes we’ll be driven, not by rules and regulations, but by being with Jesus through life.
And in carrying us through life, and our faith and love with him, we will change the world.
What we have is something quite different. We have Jesus saying: Happy are you who are poor, happy are you who are meek, you shall have the whole world.
Happy are you who mourn and hold people’s hands when disaster comes and you mourn with them and you feel their sorrow and you make it your own sorrow.
Happy are the peacemakers, those who bring people together, from children to adults to frightened old people to live in peace with one another.
To bring peace, this is the object of God’s becoming man: to restore the peace that God intended for all creation when on that very first day, He said, “Let there be light” and there was light.
And that light is Jesus, and that light is you and I and all those who walk this world driving back the darkness, living it and not just preaching it and talking about it and hoping for it, but living it day by day in every way in the small gestures of coming together in love.
Deacon Thomas Kung