From now on, brethren, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Jesus said to his disciples,
"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.' But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be 'Yes, Yes' or 'No, No'; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
Spiritually, we may still be in our adolescent stage, old enough to be responsible but young enough to blunder and fall; far enough along to glimpse the new heavens and the new earth (Rev 21:1, Isa 65:17) and to share in the "new creation," announced today by Paul, and yet at the same time still looking backward and in need of God's forgiveness and patience.
Many statements in today's readings project fully forward into the kingdom of God as fully realised on the earth. We read in 2 Cor 1st Reading: : "Since one died for all, all have died." "Whoever is in Christ is a new creation. The old order has passed away; now all is new."
The kingdom of God is a wonderful idea and glorious dream--but are Jesus' directives in the Sermon on the Mount literally possible in this world of ours? Some Christian groups follow them literally, and keep their speech simple and exact, as honest as the blue sky on a spring morning. Most people, however, feel the need to say more than a crisp "Yes" or an absolute "No." We consider it fair to have our ID card checked out, our driver's license verified, and are willing in court to swear on the Bible that our words are true. We and our world are not yet fully there, in kingdom mode!
Earlier this week we were assured of being sealed and anointed by the Spirit who is the pledge and first payment of eternal life. We are, incipiently, part of that new creation, but God is patient and forgiving as we stumble forward. Meanwhile, we too should be reconciling towards our neighbour.1st Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
Jesus opposes the kind of oath taking that seeks to control God for one's own purposes, swearing by heaven, God's throne, or by earth, God's footstool, or by Jerusalem, the city of God. The temptation to control God for one's own purpose has been deeply rooted in the human spirit. Ancient magic was an attempt to control the spirit world for one's own purpose, and, indeed, the same could be said of certain forms of contemporary magic. However, in the Lord's Prayer, the only prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray, Jesus calls on us to begin by surrendering ourselves to God's purpose, "your name be held holy, your kingdom come, your will be done." Jesus whole life teaches us that God's purpose for our lives is ultimately life-giving. In trust we can invite God to have God's way in our lives because that way is one that will lead to authentic life. It is not a case of manipulating God to serve our purposes but of giving ourselves over to serve God's purpose for our lives and for his creation, after the example of Jesus, who in the Garden of Gethsemane prayed, "Father.. not my will but yours be done," and after the example of Mary whose response to God's messenger was, "Let it be to me according to your word."