Lectio Divina Reflection on Matthew 5:17-37 – The Spiritual Ways of Love
It can be difficult to interpret the inspiration of the law that God breathed into the Bible. We have to be careful not to include what man has created outside of the Spirit. Praying for understanding before reading scripture opens our hearts to hear God’s word. Jesus helps define Old Testament situations throughout the Gospels, always pointing back to the love of God and neighbor. As Christians, with God’s love inside we also learn and teach by example. With Jesus’s help, anger becomes replaced with respect, forgiveness, compassion, mercy, and peace. Our task is to project the spiritual ways of love if we are to find and help others in their journey toward heaven.
The full-resolution painting and more details are available on the Brooklyn Museum website.
Matthew 5:17-37 – Scripture*
The Law and the Prophets
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 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. 30 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.
31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 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.
33 “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.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
Thank you for meditating on this Gospel and reading this Lectio Divina on Matthew 5:17-37 Reflection – The Spiritual Ways of Love.
Would you like to contribute related thoughts to these Lectio reflections on the Gospel readings? Since Lectio is not the only contemplative prayer style, others might appreciate these types of expressions in this ministry. Do you see God’s grandeur everywhere and unconditionally enjoy sharing the love of Christ that you have inside? Are you willing to be anonymous in what you would share? If so, email me.
Prayer for young families:
Lord, let the young families of our communities get to know your joy, peace, comfort, and love despite worldly distractions.
*This site has permission to use the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) Bible Matthew 5 passage.