“Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
We often hear the Sermon on the Mount during the days of Lent. Let’s listen carefully to Jesus’ words on the mountain today. Before him, Moses brought God’s word to the Israelites from a high mountain. Now, Jesus teaches God’s word as Moses did. He does not abolish what the great patriarch taught; he brings it to fulfillment.
Sublime promises are made here, our God is gracious and near. But we are reminded that sublime things are reached by small steps. We must keep the “least commandments,” to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Lent is a time for remembering that small things like a cup of cold water, a visit to the sick, feeding someone hungry, clothing someone naked, speaking a “word to the weary to rouse them” are important commandments of God.
Yes, lent calls us to think great thoughts and embrace great visions of faith. But the law of God often comes down to small things, and the greatest in the kingdom of God are the best at seeing them.
“The most important things for you are: humility of heart, patience, meekness, charity toward all, and seeing in your neighbor an image of God and loving him in God and for God.” ( St. Paul of the Cross, Letter 1114)
What small step do you want me to take today, O Lord?
Help me see what’s right before me.
There’s a neighbor before me now,
made in your image.
What small gift can I give?