My brethren, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
Therefore, since it is by God's mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
a voice that speaks of peace.
His help is near for those who fear him
and his glory will dwell in our land. (R./)
Mercy and faithfulness have met,
justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven. (R./)
The Lord will make us prosper
and our earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him
and peace shall follow his steps. (R./)
Jesus said to his disciples: 'If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
"You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not murder'; and 'whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.' 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. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 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. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
Our holy Scriptures suggest that mountains are a priveleged place where human beings can encounter God, and be transformed. St Paul refers to Mount Sinai, where Moses stayed with the Lord for forty days and he wrote the words of the covenant on the tablets of stone. Amazingly, as he came down from Mount Sinai, the skin of the face of Moses had become so radiant he had to veil his face ever afterwards (Exod 34:28-29). St Paul sees this as a profound spiritual encounter in which we also can take part. Like Moses on the Holy Mountain, we now enter into the immediate presence of Jesus. We enter behind the veil, opened up by Jesus' death on the cross (see Mt 27:51) and it is there that our full potential is revealed. Paul develops this idea of encounter with God as something open to everyone. All of us gazing on the Lord's glory with unveiled faces, are being transformed ever more fully into the image of God.
Three significant mountains feature in the Gospels: 1. The Mount of the Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. 2. Mount Calvary, where the saving blood of Christ was shed for us. 3. The mount of the Ascension, where his final promise was given: "I am with you always, even to the end of time."
Today's Gospel teaching is from the Sermon on the Mount, spoken to the crowds on a hillside overlooking the Lake of Galilee. Jesus invites us to grow into a deeper level of virtue, so as to be transformed and be like him: "Do not grow angry, do not use abusive language, do not offer a gift on the altar without first being reconciled with neighbour." This advice may seem too elementary, ever to place us on the road to mystical experiences like Moses or Elijah or Jesus. Yet, it is charity, patience and forgiveness that draws us to Mount Calvary where Jesus died, that tore open the veil that separated us from the Holy of Holies, and that enables us like Moses to converse with God.
Jesus calls for a virtue that goes beyond what is called for by the Old Testament, or indeed by our own civil laws. The ideal of virtue he proposes is at the level of attitude and feeling and not simply at the level of action. The ten commandments relate to actions which are to be done or to be avoided. Jesus quotes one of the commandments at the beginning of our gospel reading, "You shall not kill." He goes on to prohibit not just the act of killing but attitudes and emotions that can lead people to kill each other. He warns against anger and the scorning of others that leads us to call them fools.
Most of us would regard the commandment, "Do not kill," as not applying to us because we are unlikely ever to want to kill someone else. But it comes to the level of feelings, attitudes and prejudices, we cannot escape so easily. We have all experienced anger and recognized its potentially destructive power. We have all judged others in ways that led us to speak of them disrespectfully. Even though we are not criminal at the level of action, we may fail at that underlying level of anger and resentment that Jesus talks about. If we are to reach this deeper virtue taught by Jesus, we know it can only be with God's help, with the help of the Holy Spirit, whose power at work within us can begin to shape all we do and how and why we do it.