ROME — Christ’s Sermon on the Mount shows that he wanted to fulfill the law of Moses, not abolish it, Pope Francis said Sunday during his Angelus address.
He “wants to help his listeners to achieve a reinterpretation of the Mosaic law. What was said in the Old Covenant was true, but it was not all: Jesus came to fulfill and to enact definitively the law of God, down to the last iota,” the pope said February 12 in St. Peter’s Square.
“He manifests the Law’s original purposes and He fulfills its authentic aspects – and He does all this by His preaching and even more by offering Himself on the Cross.”
Christ “teaches how to do the will of God fully – and He uses this expression: with a ‘justice superior’ to that of the scribes and Pharisees – a justice animated by love, charity, mercy, and therefore capable of realizing the substance of the commandments, avoiding the risk of formalism,” he said, calling us to “more.”
The Gospel passage the pope considered included Christ’s words on homicide, adultery, and oath swearing.
Christ explained that the commandment against murder “is violated not only by actual homicide, but also by those behaviors which offend the dignity of the human person, including insulting words. Certainly, these injurious words do not have the same gravity and sinfulness of killing, but they are placed on the same line, because they are the premises of the more serious acts and they reveal the same malevolence.”
We are invited “not to establish a gradation of offenses, but to consider them all harmful, insofar as they are all moved by the intention to do harm to one’s neighbor,” he said, urging: “Please, do not insult! We earn nothing by doing so.
“Another fulfillment is made to marriage law,” Pope Francis said. “Adultery had been considered a violation of a man’s property right to his wife. Jesus, however, goes to the root of the evil. Just as one comes to murder through injuries, offenses, and insults, so one comes to adultery through intentions of possession with respect to a woman other than one’s wife.
“Adultery, like theft, corruption and all other sins, are first conceived in our hearts and, once the wrong choice is made in the heart, they are actuated in concrete behavior. And Jesus says: He who looks with a possessing spirit at a woman who is not his own is an adulterer in his heart, he has begun to go down the road to adultery. Let us think a little on this: on the bad thoughts that are in this line.”
The pope then turned to Christ’s words on swearing oaths, noting that Christ advised against it because “the oath is a sign of insecurity and duplicity with which human relations are conducted. Oath-swearing exploits the authority of God to give assurance to our human affairs. Rather we are called to establish among ourselves, in our families and in our communities, a climate of clarity and mutual trust, so that we can be considered honest without resorting to higher interventions in order to be believed. Mistrust and mutual suspicion always threaten serenity!”
Pope Francis concluded by turning to Mary, “a woman of docile listening and joyous obedience, might help us to approach the Gospel, to be Christians not in name, but in substance! And this is possible with the grace of the Holy Spirit, who permits us to do everything with love, and so to fulfill the will of God.”