Seventh Sunday after Epiphany
Dear sisters and brothers, it is such a joy and privilege to be able to join the family of the Parish of South Darebin. Thank you for the welcome, love and support we have been receiving as a family. I hope to get to know each of you in the coming days and build strong relationships that will last for a long time. I look forward to serving you in this Parish as together, we seek to discern God’s will for all of us.
Today’s readings from Leviticus and the Gospel make excellent companions. Both passages give practical instruction for living ethically as the people of God. Leviticus 19 is concerned with internal integrity and outward behaviour for our daily lives, and even though the settings may be wide-ranging, the common concern is love of neighbour. All three Synoptic Gospels quote Leviticus 19:18, “you shall love your neighbour as yourself” and Jesus makes it clear that loving one’s neighbour is integrally related to loving God. Indeed, how we love God is evident in every action we take, and how much more synchronised can you get than from both Leviticus and Matthew where we are called to be like our heavenly Father?
Our behaviour towards others witnesses, for good or bad, to the very character and nature of the God we worship and serve. Jesus challenges the disciples, and us, to do things that seem contrary to human nature; the opposite of what seems normal and reasonable. In a world that is “all about me,” Jesus offers an alternative we find difficult to imagine and express. But he doesn’t stop there: he lets his listeners know that he himself embodies these values. He moves from “you have heard it said” to “but I say to you.” We no longer have to rely solely on the written word to understand God’s will – instead we simply have to look at and listen to Jesus. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lets us eavesdrop on his instructions to the disciples. We too are encouraged to live as sisters and brothers in God’s realm. “Be perfect” is not an indictment; it is a promise that carries the possibility that we may love the world as God has loved us – fully, richly, abundantly and completely.