Jesus said to his disciples, «I tell you, then, that if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to our people in the past: ‘Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial’. But now I tell you: whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial. Whoever insults a brother or sister deserves to be brought before the council; whoever calls a brother or a sister "Fool" deserves to be thrown into the fire of hell.
»So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with him, and then come back and offer your gift to God. Don't forget this: be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There you will stay, until you have paid the last penny».
We as Christians can’t afford to be mediocratic or simply be politically correct. Many of us would like to do good and follow all the rules and regulations. Today Jesus breaks all these social obligations and regulations. At the same breath, He proposes another rule of life, a life of faith and certitude, with a perfect configuration with Him, so that we may be able to imitate the perfection of His Father. It is in this perfection, our own humanity is transformed in to divinity. Man in his perfection will have a perfect resemblance to the Father.
This process of perfection begins with our human love, expressed in our sincere desire to get reconciled with God, and this reconciliation is done through human reconciliation. God doesn’t desire our cult or our sacrifices. All that He desires is that we act in a dignified way, not simply as a perfect human being, rather as a Child of God, God himself. Let our being be a perfect manifestation of divine presence in this world. Thus like Mary, the mother of God, we too will be able to listen to the Father and say YES to Him.
A Daily Quote for Lent:
Are you ashamed to ask pardon? by Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"How many there are who know that they have sinned against their brothers or sisters and yet are unwilling to say: 'Forgive me.' They were not ashamed to sin, but they are ashamed to ask pardon. They were not ashamed of their evil act, but they blush where humility is concerned." (excerpt from Sermon 211,4)
«Leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with him [your brother]»
Fr. Thomas LANE
(Emmitsburg, Maryland, United States)
Today, the Lord challenges us to convert as He speaks about what goes on in our hearts. The commandment says «Do not commit murder» (Mt 5:21), but Jesus reminds us that there are other ways of killing life in others. We can kill life in others by harboring excessive anger towards them in our hearts or not treating them respectfully and calling them “Fool” (cf. Mt 5:22).
The Lord calls us to be people of integrity: «Leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with him» (Mt 5:24), i.e. the faith we profess in our celebration of the Liturgy should flow over into our daily lives and affect how we live. So Jesus asks us to be reconciled with our enemies. A first step along the road to reconciliation is to pray for our enemies as Jesus requested. If we find this difficult it is good to remember and picture in our minds Jesus dying for those whom we dislike. If we have been seriously hurt by others let us pray for healing of painful memories and the grace to forgive. As you pray, ask the Lord to walk back in time with you to the time and place of the hurt and replace your hurt with his love so that you may be free to forgive.
As Pope Benedict XVI wrote, «we cannot communicate with the Lord if we do not communicate with one another. If we want to present ourselves to him, we must also take a step towards meeting one another. To do this we must learn the great lesson of forgiveness: we must not let the gnawings of resentment work in our soul, but must open our hearts to the magnanimity of listening to others, open our hearts to understanding them, eventually to accepting their apologies, to generously offering our own».