Competition Stimulates Business
"Competition stimulates business!" This saying has great significance in today’s society which is filled with consumption and a sort of predatory competition. If someone has a competitor, they have to strive and consciously focus on their own strengths. Competition can be an incentive to grow and mature.
Growing and Maturing
Dear Christian brothers and sisters,
As Baptized and Confirmed Christians, as children of God in life, faith, hope, and love, Jesus encourages us to grow and mature, as we heard in this evening’s Gospel (Matthew 5:17-37). Jesus encourages his disciples and followers to compete with the scribes and Pharisees. "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” It is important to know that Jesus highly respected the Pharisees and scribes and at the same time, he severely criticized them. They stood for the belief that Jews must live their faith through the strict adherence to Mosaic laws. For them, the adherence to purity laws was extremely important and a measure of piety. This is where Jesus' severe but also constructive criticism comes in. But be careful. It is not a matter of simply abolishing all external forms and rules. It’s much more than that.
A Serious Question
How different is the life that I live compared to the external façade that I show?
Especially for priests, the saying, “Preach water, and drink wine” holds a mirror toward hypocritical behaviour. Jesus encourages us to face our true selves, blemishes and all, even if it hurts. He says: You can be different from these people. Our actions must clearly show how much room in our hearts we want to give God. We will be measured by our actions. We will be measured by our contribution to society and how we live our lives. As Baptized and Confirmed, we will be measured by how we apply the Christian values which we have been taught. This is not easy - it's a life-long journey. For each small success of self-overcoming, we can be proud - like Our Father in Heaven, who wants to share this success with us. But it is also a journey, my friends, filled with setbacks, disappointments and pain.
Celebrating Our Strength
On this journey, we learn that our faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit does not mean simply adhering to external rules and laws. Celebrating the Eucharist together as a community can be a strong source of power and an inspiration for our daily life. However, the full potential of this power and inspiration can be achieved when we strive for peace and reconciliation with those whom we have conflict.
Deeper Understanding of the Commandments
Jesus also addresses the commandment "You shall not kill." Usually people think: I am not killing anyone. But here, Jesus clearly and distinctly says that the life of a person can be destroyed through insulting, abusing or degradation. In Jesus' eyes this kind of behavior is no less severe than killing. On the outside, I can live in a perfect marriage. On the outside, I can be the most pious and faithful priest. This could all be a façade. Dear friends, I am not condemning how one lives their life. Who am I to judge? I am not perfect - or without sin. Jesus encourages us to take the journey inward, along the path of awareness. This directs my outer actions and encounters.
From the External to the Internal
All the laws and commandments from the Old Testament want to organize and regulate life with God and with our neighbor. However, Jesus wants to give the commandments a deeper and lifechanging meaning. In the reading from the book of Jesus Sirach (15: 15-20), we hear: "No one does he command to act unjustly, to none does he give license to sin". Let us seriously take the possibility of being guilty in the eyes of God and our neighbor.
I am convinced: Living as children of God changes the world. Have the courage to be different - then we will shine as lights of the world and act as salt of the earth. We learned from last Sunday’s Gospel. Shine and be a light in the world - don't be afraid to be different. With this in mind, and with Jesus in our heart, we are the best competitors related to other life and world concepts.
Praised be Jesus Christ. Amen