Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:27-37
In one office where I worked we kept a jar and when expletives were unleashed we had to pay up. When, over time, plenty of money was collected we went to lunch. We did this especially during Lent, as a sign of our willingness to give something up and to change behavior. We were more attentive and careful, but we were also more keen on turning someone in. There was a quarter cost for small offenses and dollar for a string of expletives. We learned more about how sneaky we were than being truly humble and following Jesus. We did have fun and a great barbecue lunch eventually.
Jesus is very clear in responding to the religious leaders. They had ways of excusing behavior and covering up what they wanted to, in order to seem more pious and proper than they were. Jesus was direct with them, almost harsh, since they were willing to condemn others while letting each other off the hook. We are invited by God today to be honest about our sinfulness, and about our humanity. In that honesty we are to turn our lives around, and to live in gratitude rather than with a high and mighty attitude.
Today I ask God to help me be self-reflective and honest in all my dealings. May we truly serve God by following the narrow way, in a life of service to others and a turning over of our selfishness to the redemption and love of our Creator.