Fr. Michael Schleupner shares today’s message, which was given on the first Friday of Lent. It’s a lesson from scripture that should linger throughout the year though. Let’s take a few quiet minutes on our own to reflect on this lesson.
Readings: Ezekiel 18:21-28, Matthew 5:20-26
The term “minimalism” – “minimalism” – describes a certain kind of art. “Minimalism” is an artistic movement that tends to extreme simplification of form or shape. It tries to capture just the object being portrayed as an object. It tries to eliminate any feeling or any personal dimension. From this effort comes the word “minimalism.” One of the members of the minimalist movement is credited with the saying, “Less is more.”
The background to today’s gospel passage is a religious minimalism. This minimalism basically said that if you obey all 613 precepts of the Mosaic Law, you can feel okay. Your obligation toward God has been fulfilled, and there is nothing else you have to worry about.
And right here lies the deficiency in that approach. It was minimalist.
In other words, I am to observe the letter of the law and do exactly what the law says – no more, no less. With this, I can feel that I am okay.
To that, Jesus says: Wait a minute.
He takes the precepts of the old, Mosaic Law and says that they are just a beginning. They just scratch the surface of our moral living and moral obligation. For example, the law says that killing is wrong. Jesus says: In addition to that, don’t even be verbally or emotionally or physically abusive in any way at all. Jesus calls us away from a minimalist approach to religious law.
And he calls us to embrace a maximalist approach in our relationship with God.
And notice, by the way, that Jesus calls us to focus on a relationship with God and not just obedience to the law, but that is another homily in itself! For today, the message is: do as much good as possible. Avoid as much evil or wrongdoing as possible.
With Jesus, less is definitely not more.
He is no minimalist.
He is a maximalist.
~Father Michael Schleupner
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