Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20)
In 1912, George Horine leaped two meters skyward during an Olympic trial. Usually, “two” isn’t very spectacular. But in the high jump, elevating yourself two meters is something special—and George set the world record. Over the years, that record would change hands many times, until 1993, when the bar was raised to its current height, a staggering 2.45 meters. If George were around, he might have marveled, “That’s impossible!”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus dramatically elevated the standards for his disciples to live by. He proclaimed that unless they were more righteous than their religious leaders, they would not enter heaven. He then went on to expand the commandment against murder to include speaking and even thinking violence against others. You can just hear the disciples’ exasperated response, “This will be impossible!”
Why such a high standard? Because it’s a truer reflection of the Father’s heart. If we see God’s Law as a gift given first to Moses, then developed by the prophets, and completed in Jesus, we can see God raising his people up, step-by-step, to a greater conformity to his own character. What’s more, as the stakes are raised, we become more alert to our need for his grace to reach the standard: it’s impossible by ourselves!
Take a few moments to answer these questions: Is Jesus inviting you to “elevate” your journey this Lent beyond last year’s mark? Is he asking you to run farther, leap higher, or dive deeper in your friendship with him? This invitation means something unique and specific to each one of us. See it as an opportunity to step up and get the closest that you’ve ever been to your Savior.
What Jesus is asking you to do may feel impossible. On your own, it will be. But you’re not on your own! The Holy Spirit is with you. He can lift you up to heights that you’ve never reached before. And to get there, you’re going to need to rely on him to a greater degree than ever before. Who knows? During your Lenten journey, you just may find yourself doing the impossible!
“Jesus, I hear you calling me. Please help me answer!”~WAU