Today’s Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26
In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that our righteousness must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees. That probably seemed to Jesus’ followers, and maybe even to us, as though it would be impossible. They were considered the holiest of men. How could a common person back then or us reading it today surpass them in righteousness?
In some ways it might be easier for us. Jesus knew that many of the Scribes and Pharisees were faking their holiness. They were adhering to the rules, at least the ones people could see. Some people in our lives do the same. Many of us are very good at obeying all the laws and rules of The Church but it is only for show.
In this Gospel, Jesus is asking us to dig deeper. He is asking us to examine the matters of our hearts. Not many people are guilty of murder but all of us have been angry. We have all said unkind things about and to others. We have all judged each other. That is what Jesus is taking about today. He’s telling us that it is not enough to say, “Well, I didn’t KILL anyone.” That’s not the standard for us as Christians. We are called to have loving and forgiving hearts even when no one is watching.
Jesus isn’t asking us to deny our emotions. They are feelings given to us by God. He is asking us to acknowledge them and move past them. This is why He tells us to leave our gifts at the altar and go make peace with someone who has hurt us or who we have offended. This is what we do as Catholics at the Sign of Peace before receiving the Eucharist. We symbolically make peace with those who we are at odds with in order to be right before God.
Jesus tells us be quick with our apologies and grant forgiveness easily. It isn’t easy to make the first move but that is what we are called to do in today’s Gospel.
What problems do I have in my heart? Anger? Jealousy? Etc?
Who do I need to make peace with?
Lord, allow me to be quick with my apologies and to grant my forgiveness easily.
Help me to heal my heart of any emotions that cause pain to me or others. Amen.
Copyright 2014 Ellen Toole