- THE SMALLEST COMMANDMENTS

Created: Wednesday, 03 July 2013 Last Updated: Saturday, 31 August 2013

THE SMALLEST COMMANDMENTS


1. -      The Gospel implies a sweep of laws (the Jewish legal code had 613); due to this, Jesus and his disciples have problems with several precepts. (see Mt 9, 14; 15, 3).  Nevertheless, the Gospel does not abrogate God’s will manifested in the law and the prophets. Jesus says: “I did not come to abolish, but to fulfil”(Mt 5,17). What is abolished are the human precepts that nullify God’s word (15, 1-9). The Gospel accomplishes God’s will to the last letter. “As long as heaven and earth last, not one letter of the Law will change until all is fulfilled” (5,18). Besides, not only the Decalogue’s big commandments are important (Ex 20), but also the gospel’s smallest commandments.
2. -      It is so, “whoever breaks one the least important of the commandments and teaches others to do the same, will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven; on the other hand, whoever obeys the Law and teaches others to do the same will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven”. (Mt 5, 19). To be the least means in this text do not count, to be out. “I tell you, then, that if you are not righteous in a better way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. (5-20). What the teachers of the Law and the Pharisee teach and do is not enough. God asks for another thing.
3. -      You have heard that it was told to the ancient (great commandment): do not kill. The ancients are the generation coming out of Egypt, those who received from Moses´ mouth God’s commandments. But now Jesus says in a new way what God wants (small commandment): “Whoever gets angry with his brother will have to face trial; whoever insults his brother deserves to be brought before the council; whoever humiliates his brother deserves to be thrown into the fire of hell” (5,22). Jesus´ disciple, before the wrath coming out from the heart, must flee as from homicide: “Whoever hates his brother is a criminal” (1Jn 3,15?). Whoever has the wrath in his heart, shows it in the insult: crazy, renegade, excommunicated. Under certain circumstances, these insults may be of importance (see1Co 4,14; 1,27; Dt32,6;21,18,20).
4. -      In the Jewish world, brother is the man of the same origin, same blood and same faith. In the church differences between Jewish and Greeks, slaves and free men are overcome. (1Co 12,13) since all of us are brothers. The parable of the Samaritan manifests that the brotherhood love has no limits (Lk 10,29 – 37). Specially, brother is the fellow in the faith. Aversion, wrath or hate are not possible into the Christian community. Cult to God only is authentic if it comes from peace and fraternal unity. “So if you are about to offer your gift at the altar and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with our brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God” (Mt 5, 23-24). When the Pharisees ask Jesus which one is the greatest commandment he tells them: You shall love the Lord with all your heart. After this there is another one similar to it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself (22, 37– 40). Nothing can be healed between God and us, if it is not healed between us and the neighbour.
5. -      A second instance coming from real life: “Be reconciled with your opponent before you are summoned to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police who will put you in jail. There you will stay until you have paid the last penny” (Mt 5, 25-26). Whoever is in debt with another one and does not want to pay, the creditor puts him a lawsuit and takes him before the judge. What does Jesus commandment say? Look for an agreement, while time is available. That is what the popular proverb says: It is better a bad agreement than a good lawsuit.
6. -  You have heard (great commandment): Do not commit adultery. Jesus does not rules out this commandment. Even more, he teaches than adultery grows up in the heart and becomes evident in the look (eye) and the action (hand). Jesus says (lesser commandment): “Anyone who looks at a woman with the intention of possessing her has in fact already committed adultery with her in his heart” (5, 28). Of course, Jesus does not condemn here the natural wish that the man has for the woman, but the desire for the neighbour’s wife. It was also said: “Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce” (Dt 24,1). Jesus nullifies this human precept and restates the true will of God. “If a man divorces his wife for other cause than unfaithfulness he causes her to commit adultery; and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Mt 5,32). At this point, like in others, it was produced (and it is produced ) an acute shock with the surrounding world’s habits.
7. -      You have also heard that it was told to the ancient (great commandment): Do not break your oath; an oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But now, fraternal sincerity should be enough for the disciple  (lesser commandment). “Do not take an oath for any promise… Say yes when you mean yes and say no when you mean no. Anything else you say comes from the devil”. (5, 34- 37).
8. -      You have heard that it was said: “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (Ex 21,24). To this way of thinking and acting that already appears in the Hammurabi code (1800 b. C.), Jesus opposes this lesser commandment: “Do not oppose evil with evil; if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer him the other; if someone sues you in court for your shirt, let him have your coat as well; if someone forces you to for one mile, go two miles with him. Give when asked and do not turn your back on anyone who wants to borrow from you” (5, 39 - 42). The evil looses strength if we reply with the patient love. Then the shock is lost in the emptiness, because it does not find opposition. Of course, the goal is not to make the game to strange caprices. It is what Saint Paul says: “Do not return evil for evil, but let everyone see your good will” (Rom 12,17)
9. – You have heard that it was said: “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy”. The enemy can be personal, familiar, politic or religious. The first Christians were exhorted to be patient with their adversaries (Rom 12, 17-21;Tit 3,1-3). The Gospel bears in itself a cause of division (Lk 12, 51-53) that the Christians should overcome by concrete actions, like the service, the greeting, the prayer: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven, For he makes his sun rise on both the wicked and the good, and he gives rain to both the just and the unjust (Mt 5, 44-45).
10. -    To end this, it could be said: You not only will not have other gods (Dt 5,7), but above all you will set your heart first on the kingdom and justice of God (Mt 6,33); not only you will not make a false oath Dt 5, 11), but neither in any manner (Mt 5, 33 -34); not only you will keep holy the Sabbath day (Dt 5,12-15), but you will be fed by the bread of life (Jn 6, 25-51; see Mk 2,27); not only you will honour your father and your mother (Dt 5,16) but all those who hear the word of God will be your family (Mk 3, 31- 35); not only you will not kill (Dt 5, 17), but you will love your enemy (Mt 5, 43-46); not only you will not commit adultery (Dt 5,18), but you will be faithful of heart (Mt 5, 28 . 30); not only you will not steal (Dt 5,19), neither you will desire the neighbour possessions (5,21), but you will share your goods (Lk 19, 8-10); not only you will not give false testimony against your neighbour (Dt 5,20), but you will excuse and forgive (Mt 18,21.22).
Dialogue: Are the smallest commandments important?