In the Lectionary

Sunday, February 23, 2014: Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18; Matthew 5:38-48

What does God require of us? We tend to like Jesus’ most famous answer, what Scot McKnight calls the Jesus Creed: to love God with our entire being and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

But what about the answer we find in the holiness code of Leviticus and the Sermon on the Mount? Are we really ready to sign up for a program of holiness and perfection? Sure, it’s simple and to the point. But what chance do we have of living up to these radical standards?

There is much here to guide our personal lives and social priorities. We hear about provision for the poor and resident aliens; prohibitions against stealing, deceit and unjust business practices; fair treatment of workers; injunctions against mistreating those with disabilities or special needs; justice and fairness regardless of social status; avoidance of hatred, grudges or vengeance; loving our enemies, turning the other cheek and going the extra mile.