The daily Gospel reading from the Mass for Monday of the 11th Week of Ordinary Time is Matt 5:33-37.

Continuing with His announcement of the New Covenant in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ again refers to the Old Covenant and then dramatically instructs His followers to an even greater perfection. While the Old Covenant laid out commandments which outlawed outer sinful behaviors (e.g. murder, physical adultery), Christ commands His followers to the higher standard of eradicating the sinful inner thoughts (e.g. thoughts of anger, lust, etc.).

Christ now corrects the accepted norms of invoking the name of God to prove a man was telling the truth. Given that breaking an oath in which God’s name was invoked made a man guilty of blasphemy (Exod 20:17), it was a common practice to swear other types of oaths (i.e. “by heaven”, “by earth”, “by Jerusalem”, “by my head”, etc.). Christ points to the obvious problem with men’s abuse of oaths; without saying an “oath”, everything a man said could be viewed with suspicion of being untrue. Jesus condemns the use of oaths as inspired by “the Evil one” and He instructs men to simply tell the truth all the time.

Christ’s direction to men is based on the smallness of men and the greatness of God. He reveals men must “make good” their statements to the Lord Himself.  He reveals God’s Kingship in Heaven (i.e. God’s throne) and mysteriously refers to His own kingship  in the Heavenly Jerusalem (i.e. the city of the great King). In contrast, men are to recognize that they are small (i.e. at God’s “footstool”) and have little power (i.e. no dominion even over a trivial thing like one’s hair).

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine Wisdom, Christ correctly diagnoses the increasing division that comes when lying becomes widespread.  Son of God, Christ has the authority to update the 1200-year old law given to Moses, calling men to much higher standards of perfection. Christ, the Divine Truth, reiterates the essential requirement for men to tell the truth in all matters. Almighty King, Christ warns men of the Evil One, a reference to Satan’s ongoing attempts to pervert men.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) While He has compassion for the weakness of men, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is Perfection Himself and calls men to perfection. Be awed by Christ’s example and commit to throw off moral mediocrity and to relentlessly pursue perfection in Christ.

2) The Lord’s name is routinely taken in vain (“Oh, my God”, “G-damnit”, flippantly saying “Jesus Christ” in anger); Christ offers a solemn warning against insulting God. Review the Catechism’s teaching on the 2nd Commandment (CCC 2142-2167) and pray for Christ to always call upon His name with the highest respect and honor.

3) Today, public figures routinely lie, even under “oath”, and frequently use “weasel words” to deceive the public about their true evil intents. Reflect upon the 8th Commandment (CCC 2464-2513) and pray for Christ to help you always speak the truth.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Virgin Mary

Virtue of the Day – Hope

Corporal Work of Mercy – To bury the dead

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To pray for the living and the dead

Continuing the Sermon on the Mount, Christ now addresses sexual sin. As He previously asserted the new higher standard of inner holiness when He denounced unrighteous anger (Matt 5:20-26), Christ lays out a new higher standard of chastity.

Referring to the Law of Moses given in the 6th Commandment against the sexual sin of adultery, Christ now specifically condemns the lust of men as they gaze upon women as sexual objects. Men who look at women with lustful thoughts are guilty of the mortal sin of adultery. Christ then speaks of gouging out one’s right eye and cutting off one’s right hand if it causes a man to sin.  Given that it directly follows Christ’s condemnation of lustful gazing, Christ is likely condemning masturbation; it is a common for men to masturbate after being aroused by women or images of women.

Christ is explicit in His condemnation of adultery (both consummated with a woman or in lustful imaginings of men), warning men to go to extreme measures (gouging of eyes, cutting off of hands) to avoid Gehenna, a reference to eternal burning Hell. Christ then refutes the common understanding that men and women can divorce.  Shockingly, Christ makes it clear that those who divorce commit adultery and those who marry someone who has been divorced commits adultery.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ asserts His authority to dramatically strengthen the 1200 year-old 6th Commandment and affirms the reality of Hell (i.e. Gehenna). Divine Prophet, Christ speaks the truth about the sinful acts of lust, specifically and clearly calling it adultery; He almost certainly also condemns masturbation. Divine Judge, Christ warns those who persist in adultery are in grave danger of spending eternity in Hell.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ does not claim that He was given authority by God (like Moses) it is implicit that He is His own authority; Christ is speaking and acting like God.  Be awed.

2) The modern culture is permeated with pornography, delivered to men for free via the phones and computers; the majority of men are continually tempted and fall into sexual sin. Renew your understanding of the 6th and 9th Commandments (CCC 2331-2359, 2514-2533), pray for Christ to help you to grow in chastity; go to Confession as needed.

3) Some in the Church heretically claim that men and women who divorce and remarry are not necessarily in a state of perpetual adultery and may even receive the Eucharist. This must be opposed for it is directly contradictory to Christ’s own words. Renew your understanding of the Church’s teaching on Divorce and Adultery (CCC 1643-1651, 2382-2386) and pray for Christ to have mercy on all those who are considering or have divorced.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ

Virtue of the Day – Faith

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the sick

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To forgive all injuries

Continuing with the Sermon on the Mount, having absolutely affirmed the 10 Commandments, Jesus now raises the bar even higher.  Jesus asserts that men who are allowed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven must possess a righteousness that surpasses the Pharisees'(Matt 5:17-19) ; this is a huge hurdle for, despite being misguided in some ways, the Pharisees loved God deeply and sought to live with deep daily piety.

With the astounding assertion He has the authority to modify the 1200 year old Law given by Moses, Jesus expands the 5th Commandment (Thou shall not kill) to include even inner feelings of anger in the definition of “kill.” In the Old Testament, laws were laid down to hold society together; in the New Covenant, Jesus is perfecting the Law to draw men to inner holiness.

Christ affirms that men are judged and the reality of Hell with a reference to Gehenna, a squalid perpetually burning trash dump near Jerusalem where child sacrifice was practiced in earlier days.  He likens Judgment to the harsh treatment of prison guards and judges and being cast violently into prison.

To avoid being condemned to Hell for the sin of anger, Jesus urges men to reconcile with an aggrieved brother and to go to the altar to reconcile with God, a prefigurement of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Awed by Jesus Christ –  Despite His humble roots as the son of a carpenter, Jesus, as the Son of God, reaffirms the 10 Commandments and then asserts His incredible authority to modify the Law of Moses.  Divine King, Jesus calls His disciples to a new perfection of inner holiness.  With the Perfect Wisdom of the Divine Prophet, Jesus affirms the reality of Hell and as Divine Judge, reveals a bit of how men are judged.  Divine Priest, Christ prefigures the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) As the Son of God, Jesus is greater than every man, even a man as great as Moses. With God from the beginning, Christ is the architect of Salvation History and He enters history to perfect that law He gave to Moses.  Reflect on the astounding way that Christ is shaping His Creation over a period of thousands of years.

2) The modern culture and even some in the Church, deny sin or downplay its importance, leading men to become lax in the Spiritual Combat and leaving men vulnerable to Hell.  Reinforce your own vigilance against Sin by reflecting on Christ’s vehement insistence for men to be relentless in battling inner Sin and His stark warnings about Judgment and Hell.

3) Using the ultra-pious Pharisees as a starting point, Christ raises the standard of righteousness to which He calls men, pushing men to repent from the vice of unrighteous anger. Reflect on your own thoughts and emotions of anger, resentment and unspoken condemnation or hatred of others.  Go to Confession as soon as possible.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Luminous Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Holy Eucharist

Virtue of the Day – Fortitude

Corporal Work of Mercy – To shelter the homeless

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To bear wrongs patiently

Christ continues with His Sermon on the Mount, a summary of the New Covenant. Having explained how men can find lasting happiness in the Beatitudes (Matt 5:1-12) and calling the disciples to be enthusiastic evangelists (Matt 5:13-16), Christ now describes how the New Covenant is built off the foundation of the Old Covenant.

Remarkably, Christ starts by revealing that He is the fulfillment (i.e. to make complete) of the Law and the Prophets, which is a shorthand reference for the entire Old Testament. He clearly and adamantly confirms the details of the Law, revealing that not the “smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter” will be ignored; the perfection that Christ is calling men to is an impossibly high standard.  As Christ will reveal, only the Divine Mercy of God gives men the grace to allow them to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Christ reveals that He has an intimate knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven, knowing the hierarchy that exists (i.e. greater and lesser), the criteria by which men are judged (i.e. righteousness) and even those who will not be accepted into Heaven (i.e. the Pharisees and those who are less righteous).  Christ calls all men to honor the Commandments and places great responsibility on those who teach to teach the fullness of the Commandments or face the consequences.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ speaks with Divine Authority. Person of the Trinity and Divine King, Christ has perfect knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Divine Prophet, Christ confirms the Law and Prophets of the Old Covenant and, amazingly, Christ reveals that He has come to fulfill them. Divine Judge, Christ, who has first hand knowledge of Heaven and the Power and Wisdom to judge men’s souls, confirms some are excluded from Heaven.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Be awed that Christ not only establishes the 10 Commandments, but, in the Incarnation, confirms the the unbending truth of the 10 Commandments and perfectly keeps them (CCC 577-582).

2) Review the Church’s teaching on the The Moral Law (CCC 1949-1986) and pray for Christ to help you to grow in holiness.

3) Despite being blessed to have been baptized into the Catholic Church, many men do not understand the “rule book” of the Laws and the Prophets; it is impossible to win a game (e.g. be accepted into Heaven) if you are ignorant of the rules. As fathers (both biological and spiritual), men have a special responsibility to teach their children and others to understand and obey the 10 Commandments (CCC 2052-2557). Vow to learn and live out the 10 Commandments each day.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – Saint Joseph

Virtue of the Day – Temperance

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the imprisoned

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To comfort the sorrowful

Continuing with the Sermon on the Mount, Christ turns to His call for men to evangelize the world. Christ uses the metaphor of the seemingly common mineral salt in a profound way to speak of evangelization and the spiritual life. Salt is a valued commodity for it preserves food, brings joy to life and is essential for health. Similarly, disciples are called to be a living witness for the Gospel that preserves lives, families and societies, brings the peace of Christ and is essential for salvation of souls.  Salt is also associated with being a priest (Num 18:19) and kingship (2 Chron 13:5); Christ is calling disciples to be priests and kings for the Gospel. Christ warns of the fatal danger of becoming lukewarm in the faith; those who lose their saltiness will be thrown out.

Using another powerful metaphor, light, Christ calls on men to take the light of the Gospel to the world. Referring to the Heavenly Jerusalem (The Kingdom of Heaven), Jesus insists the disciples must not practice the faith in private but in public as part of a community. Christ uses the humorous example of lighting a lamp and covering it with a basket to expose the absurdity of hiding one’s faith.

Christ exhorts the disciples to let their light shine before others, performing good deeds through the blessing of the Holy Spirit, good deeds that move others to glorify God the Father. What’s needed is both deeds and the proclamation of the Gospel.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ reveals that God is our Father in Heaven.  Almighty King, Christ sets demanding requirements for men be bold in living and proclaiming the Gospel. Divine Judge, Christ alludes to the judgment of those who in their lukewarmness will be “thrown out” and “trodden under foot.” Divine Teacher, Christ inspires His disciples with uplifting oratory and uses powerful metaphors that have profound and lasting meaning.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ’s metaphors of salt and light remain powerful and are frequently referred to modern culture.  Reflect on the fact that Christ’s teachings continue to flavor (salt) and illuminate (light) mankind over two thousand years after His Resurrection.  Be awed.

2) Christ calls His men to be “salt” and “light”, a call to convert the world to Him. Renew your understanding of what it means to be the People of God (CCC 781-786) and pray for Christ to live up to your vocation to be a leader for Christ in your family and in the world.

3) Christ vehemently warns that lukewarm men are “good for nothing” and will be “thrown out and trodden under foot.” Renew your understanding of the grave sin of Acedia/Sloth (CCC 1866, 2094, 2733) and pray for Christ to make you “on-fire” to draw many men to Him.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Guardian Angels

Virtue of the Day – Justice

Corporal Work of Mercy – To clothe the naked

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To counsel the doubtful