Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Sermon on the Mount, Part XXIV and XXV of XL


TEXT Continuing, with Matthew 6:16:
Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

COMMENTARY: Jesus really wanted his listeners seriously to understand and remember his Message, and so, repeats it for emphasis.
The "scary" warning is here yet again repeated: If you receive a "human reward," you cancel any chances of receiving a divine reward. Let her who has ears to hear, hear this crucial warning! For many ministers, preachers, and religious leaders, accepting and welcoming fame, have rejected any chance of being rewarded cosmically! Their huge egos have spoiled everything for them.

17. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

COMMENTARY: Again, to underscore and highlight his important Message, Jesus refers to the interior "Father," who watches our lives "in secret." From only the "Father," in His role as "interior Judge," or "Observer," can genuine, lasting karmic rewards arise. For "Him," egotism is a slap in the face, an arrogant rejection. We cannot afford to give in to this low selfesteem, or we will ruin our chances of any "heavenly" reward (in the life to come).

The Sermon on the Mount, Part XXV of XL

19. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.

COMMENTARY: This is Jesus the simple, recommending a Way of simplicity so great that it is a terror to many in our materialistic culture. Applied literally, in this text, Jesus forbids unnecessary accumulations and luxurious acquisitions. This is the same message of the Buddha, who similarly forbade "clinging," "attachment," "grasping," and "craving" for the enlightened. (He said that the enlightened mind had no interest in these "spiritual diseases" and the baubles that accompany them.) The follower of the Way must drop all materialism. She must live in utter simplicity. Again, to be literal, the person of Love must not "store" material things "on earth."

21. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

COMMENTARY: Now, Jesus reveals the mystery as to why materialism is so dangerous: It can conquer the "heart," or emotional nature. People who are too obsessed with business often discover, to their utter heartbreak, that money and the incessant accumulations of materialism actually dull their emotions in relationship, friendship, and depth of feeling generally. For they have sold pieces of their Souls, and their only reward is the stinking "mud" of money. They have traded the "gold" of God, which is Love, for the dirt and mud of materialism.

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