Friday, February 19th – Sr. Camille Anne Campbell O.Carm.
Gospel Reading: MT 5: 20-26
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.”
A righteous person is a just person. A just person gives to each one what is that person’s due. What does Jesus’ warning about His followers’ righteousness surpassing that of the Scribes and Pharisees mean for us today? The Pharisees and the Scribes wanted everyone to know how much better than others they were because they kept the law. Jesus wanted His followers to know and follow the law, but to do so with a compassionate heart, mindful of the one God who gave the law, not mindful of what others thought of them. Why do we do the good things that we do to grow in love? Is it from a heart of compassion or from a desire for others to love us, think highly of us, and praise of us?Jesus continues to illustrate this to us when Jesus tells us that the law says do not kill, but Jesus tells us not even to be angry with another person, not to call anyone by names which show contempt. We are to do all that we can to live at peace with others, even to leaving our gift at the altar to seek to be reconciled. Jesus allows for the fact that perhaps one might not want to be reconciled, telling us to try again. When someone refuses reconciliation, we could end up in the prison of our hearts unless we forgive with compassion and feel no resentment for the person.
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