Every day we need to consider how Our Lord calls us to live as his followers. Every day we are faced with many choices and decisions, and the world urges us not to think too deeply about anything. Just find the quick and easy answer to every challenge, and we’ll be happy. That philosophy even finds its way into our practice of the Christian life.
But can we really simplify God’s eternal plan of salvation into an easy-to-follow three-step plan? If it was that simple, then the scribes and Pharisees would have been on the right track; after all, they were quite rigorous in their own religious observances.
Maybe instead of thinking of outdoing the Pharisees in terms of the amount of things we do—for instance, taking five steps instead of three—we should think of it in terms of the kind of things we do. It’s helpful to see that right after telling us to go beyond the scribes and Pharisees, Our Lord tells us not to be angry with each other. He tells us to be quick to forgive and he cautions us against calling someone a fool. The righteousness Our Lord talks about isn’t a matter of doing more, it’s a matter of loving more. It’s a matter of giving generously, forgiving readily, and letting go of resentments immediately.
Our Lord asks us to do nothing less than to rise above our human flaws and weaknesses. He asks us to show the same kind of love for other people that he has for us. And he offers us his grace and help to do it; but it’s still up to us to choose this righteous path.