Lenten Reflection: March 6
Jesus said to his disciples: "I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. "You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."
Reflection by Rob Farrell, History Teacher
We have all been told to control our temper. Ironically, hearing that statement has typically made me even angrier than I was before hearing that traditional piece of advice. While controlling one's anger is not the easiest goal to accomplish, I've found that it does get easier with practice. It is quite easy to scream "hopeless" (which may be the current era's version of "Raqa" from the Gospel reading today) when our plans and expectations are thwarted. My limited experience has taught me that avoiding situations that cause anger and frustration are impossible. Rather, the key seems to be finding a method of "settling with your opponent quickly." In most cases, my primary opponent is myself, so my goal is to find a way to make peace with my own personality flaws that led to the conflict in the first place. For example, when I was in high school, I would occasionally have a slight disagreement (extended shouting match may be a more accurate description) with my mother and/or father. Our solution was simple: it was understood that my father and I would cook something for dinner on our charcoal grill after a fight (I am always amazed by how prevalent fire can be as a symbol of healing, both in Sacred Scriptures and in everyday life). Sometimes we would discuss our issues, but other times we simply stood in silence around the grill. In either case, we finished cooking in a much calmer, friendlier state of mind. At the end of the day, I think it is fair to say that today's Gospel message tells us to avoid playing the devil's fool and control your temper.
Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Reflection by Philip Helmstetter, Administrative and Academic Assistant
This Gospel is pretty straightforward and does not exactly require a Theology degree to understand, rather it requires us to swallow our pride and use our strong will to love others, even ones that have severely wronged us. This reading requires more motivation than analysis, at least until you get to the last line... "So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."
All of us have heard both of these statements at some point in our lives: "I want you to be perfect." And "No one is perfect except God." Thinking about these two statements for too long will most definitely leave you with a headache, and probably more confused than when you started reading this reflection. Basic logic (and your middle school Religion teachers) would tell us that obviously no one can be perfect; we are imperfect creatures born with original sin. So when I read the last line of this Gospel I was shocked. I asked myself, "How can I make sense of the last sentence of the Gospel?"
Finally it came to me! I thought of a sports reference from one of my favorite sports movies Friday Night Lights. Coach Gary Gaines perfectly tells his players what perfect means to him. The only thing Coach Gaines leaves out is God.
"Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn't let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasn't one more thing you could've done. Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? If you can do that gentleman - you're perfect!" - Coach Gary Gaines, Friday Night Lights
God wants us to LIVE perfectly, not BE perfect. He wants us to be accountable to Him and Him alone. If we truly try our best to be the best person that we can be then we are perfect in his eyes!