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».
Forgiveness is a delicate and difficult subject that we approach in a fine and unambiguous manner, recognizing our own fragility in this domain. However, we believe that by our conversion, together with our brothers and sisters, especially in this Lenten period, we can still hope with certain certitude and with the grace of God, for a better world, which is generous in love and pardon.
As Christians, we should be aware that our personal relationship with our brothers and sisters is closely linked and conditioned by our capacity to build an affective relationship with God. We are called to see every being as children of God, and therefore as our brothers and sisters. Thus, this world modeled giving more accent to the human desires and priorities, distancing itself from divine will, can never be our ideal model, to achieve what God wishes for each and every one of us.
Therefore, if we want to be reconciled with this God of love and compassion, we must be reconciled with our brothers and sisters, the perfect visible and palpable image of God. This is not an imposed obligation, but it is part of our very nature as children of God and we will do it out of love for the Lord. Is not forgiveness an opportunity for God's people to express the depth of their love for the Lord? Let us convert and believe in the gospel.
Action of the day: Try to express your love for God through forgiveness.
«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 Benedicyt 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».