For the first forty years of Christianity half of our believers still thought of themselves also as Jewish, and they frequented Jerusalem’s temple, just as Jesus had. But after the Romans destroyed the temple in the year 70, the Pharisees began insisting that all Christians should also keep the thousands of precepts observed by ultra orthodox Jews. And when many Jewish Christians followed the example of Jesus in mixing freely with Gentiles, the Pharisees drove them out of the synagogue. The Pharisees began saying that Jesus himself was not a good Jew, because he had tried to “abolish the Law and the Prophets.”
St. Matthew wrote his Gospel to refute those claims, and he quoted Jesus as saying, “I did not come to destroy the Law and the Prophets. I came to fulfill them.”
In regard to how God wants us to regard each other, the Old Testament, in telling us to love only our friends was telling us only half of what God wants. Jesus completed the picture of how God wants us to regard our fellow men. He did that by telling us to love our enemies as well.
The conclusion of today’s Gospel is a disappointment. Where our English version of Our Lord’s words have him saying, “be perfect as your heavenly Father is,” Matthew’s
Greek has Jesus saying, “be teleos.” That means “well rounded.” Jesus doesn’t want us to be “goody-goodies,” he wants us to well rounded guys.