Your righteousness must move beyond conventional practice
By REV. FR. SAMUEL FREDERICK
1 Kgs 18:41-46, Mt. 5:20-26. Today's first reading reports the conversation and encounter between Elijah and king Ahab of Israel after Elijah had triumphed against the priests of Baal and proven that the Lord, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is truly the one and only true God at Mount Carmel. At that time, the whole land had suffered three years without rain that led to great drought and famine, because of their refusal to believe in God and their king’s efforts to promote the worship of the pagan idols and gods like Baal and Asherah, persecuting the faithful and the prophets sent by God to remind the people. Elijah, whose name means “The Lord is my God”, acted in a righteous, God-fearing manner. Being the only true prophet left in Israel, he told Ahab that God would show His power before the people and will withhold the rain for a whole period of three years, then He will also bring the rain back to the land. Thus, the Lord showed His people and called on them to repent from their sinful ways because even though He despised their sins and wickedness, He still loved them very much and wanted them to be reconciled with Him, not to be lost from Him forever.
Today's Gospel is a challenged to a higher level of righteousness: “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. To be righteous means to follow the way of the Lord wholeheartedly more than what the Pharisees and the teachers who imposed harsh and strict interpretation of the Law of God. Today, the Lord challenges us to be truly faithful to God and not follow the faith of those hypocrites. As Christians, we are enjoined to be the beacons of God’s light and truth in our communities. We have to be genuine witnesses and followers of God in all the things we say and do, or else, we will end up being no better than hypocrites and worse still, we may even discourage and turn people away from the Lord because of our actions which have kept us away from the truth of God and His love.
May the Lord give us His wisdom, help us to walk in the newness of life and give us courage to face the challenges of this world! Amen!! Good morning and have a nice day!!!