The Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day, the Pharisees and the scribes, although they thought they were following God’s commands were actually minimalists. Doing just what they had to do to comply with the law. Jesus’ words are convicting. Unless you do more than the Pharisees or scribes you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
I wonder what the people thought. These men that Jesus just condemned were seen as the religious leaders of the day. The people were supposed to listen to them and act accordingly. With Jesus condemnation and foretelling that these leaders would not be in the Kingdom of Heaven it must have come as a great shock. Who then can enter heaven if not our religious leaders? Who will we follow?
Have we, too, become just followers? Just performing the minimal requirements. Jesus explains that we must exceed what our religious leaders are teaching. The first line from Ezekiel today is: If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
The additional part of the requirement is to do what is right and just. Going beyond the minimal. For example, the commandment thou shall not kill now includes not being angry with your brother. Right and just means loving one another as Jesus has loved you. Who do you need to reconcile with this Lent?
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen