For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.
So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today’s Gospel presents the question: How can we be in right relationship with God, if we are not in right relationship with others? For starters, Jesus says that we will be held accountable for both our actions (e.g. murder) and our motives (e.g. anger). For most people, avoiding murder is easy. But avoiding anger? Not so much. On the surface, I am quick to blame my anger on people or events beyond my control – someone or something made me angry. But, just beyond the surface, what I’m really feeling is fear – I fear losing control, rejection, failure, uncertainty, loneliness. It’s just like Jedi master Yoda said, “fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate… hate leads to suffering.”
The way we counter fear, as we know from John, is with love, as “perfect love casts out fear.” Jesus teaches us about anger so we better understand and appreciate the centrality of love and forgiveness in our relationships with God and others. We are called to cast off fear, let go of our anger, and love and forgive others, just as God loves and forgives us.
—Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.
Lord Christ, help us to see what it is
that joins us together, not what separates us.
for when we see only what it is that makes us different,
we too often become aware of what is wrong with others.
We see only their faults and weaknesses,
interpreting their actions as flowing from
malice or hatred rather than fear.
Even when confronted with evil, Lord,
you forgave and sacrificed yourself
rather than sought revenge.
Teach us to do the same by the power of your Spirit.
—William Breault, SJ
Please share the Good Word with your friends!