In Matthew’s gospel, chapters 5-7, Jesus speaks to his disciples from a mountain, a place Moses once chose to speak to the Jews, but Jesus speaks God’s revelation to a wider world from a mountain. His words are loyal to the Jewish traditions and laws that Moses taught. He’s not abolishing them. He came “not to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
First, remember them. That’s what the Jewish scriptures tell us to do. “Take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.”
Lent calls us to remember.
Second, practice them, from the greatest of the commandments to the least. Lent leads us to great thoughts and great visions of faith, but this season reminds us to remember and to do small things as well. “A cup of cold water,” a prisoner, someone sick visited, someone naked clothed, someone hungry fed, “a word to the weary to rouse them.”
The law of God often comes down to small things like these. They’re always at hand, readily available. They’re within our power to do, and the greatest in God’s kingdom are best at doing them.
Lord, may your teaching from the mountain
reach the whole world and bring us peace.
Never let us forget your words,
and help us to live by them.
Never let us forget the small acts of love.