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».
During the earthly ministry, Jesus had the priority of revealing God and the divine plan for the humanity. In this revelation, He has asked us to identify God in Him, because God and Jesus were ONE. Today in the Gospel Jesus is asking us to know ourselves, our identity and the finality. It is in this self-knowledge, being aware of our identity and origin that Jesus is exhorting us to act.
In this way of living, discerning everything according our own dignity, we are oriented to act just like His Father, not like any other human being. Thus we look forward, particularly the way God acts and imitate the divine act in our daily life. If we are asked to better our interpersonal relationship, it is an invitation to the imitation of divine relationship: act divinely.
However, God allows us to remain purely human, because a perfect human being is the perfect image of God, just like in the humanity of Jesus, we find the divinity of the Father. If we fail to act in a dignified way and refuse to forgive others, then we are inviting others to act in the same way, thus we end up in judging ourselves, not divinely, but against the divine will. God remains however the same, by proposing to us continuously the occasion for conversion. Lenten season is one such occasion given to us by God, through the Church.
«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»
Fr. Joaquim MESEGUER García
(Sant Quirze del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, Jesus exhorts us to go beyond legalisms: «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» (Mt 5:20). The Law of Moses aims at the necessary minimum to guarantee coexistence; but Christians, led by Jesus Christ, and full of the Holy Spirit, have to try to overcome this minimum to reach the climax of love. The Scribes and the Pharisees were strictly abiding by the Commandments; when looking over our own life, could we say the same? Let us therefore be careful not to look down on their religious experience.
What Jesus is teaching us today is to avoid feeling too safe just because we try hard to fulfill those requirements that may render us righteous in the face of God, as the Scribes and the Pharisees used to do; but, rather, to put our emphasis in our love for God and for our brothers; the kind of love that will allow us to go beyond the coldness of the Law while humbly recognizing our own shortcomings in a sincere conversion.
There are those who say: ‘I am good for I do not steal, nor do I kill, nor have I ever hurt anybody’; but Jesus admonishes us that this is not enough, as there other ways to steal and to kill. We can kill someone else's illusions; we can look down on our neighbour, overshadow him or alienate him; we can bear malice against him, and all this means killing too, not physically but, indeed, morally and spiritually.
Throughout our life, we can find many adversaries, but we are our worst enemy when we stray from the Gospel. This is why, in seeking reconciliation with our brothers, first we have to be reconciled with ourselves. Saint Augustine tells us: «As long as you are your own adversary, the Word of God will also be your adversary. Become friendly with yourself and you will have become reconciled with it».