The Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 5:20-26)
“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, 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 with him. 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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, as I reflect upon this Gospel please help me to see what I am clinging to, so that I may detach and cling only to you.
At first glance and reading of today’s gospel, it seems to be rather harsh and a lot of doom and gloom. If we look deeper into the gospel we could take a look at ourselves and see OR evaluate our own ability to measure out forgiveness and compassion.
We are constantly called into deeper relationship with God AND we are always deepening our relationships with others around us. Occasionally we have an encounter that turns out to be negative or toxic. We see from our own experiences that those relationships do much to harm our own spirit not to mention how it affects the other person.
Not wanting to get into politics here, but I can’t think of a more glaring example of toxic relationships and conversation than many of our political elected officials. Then you turn to the news reports that further divide rather than bring together. My point – we need to choose words carefully and resist hurtful conversation AND we have to find the common ground that binds us together rather than move us father apart.
If we look at how God works in our own personal relationship, we would see a loving God that accepts us with our failings and qualities – the whole package – and remember that he so loves us that he waits for us to come to Him to reconcile our failings and differences. He remains faithful in His compassion and mercy toward us.
We need to see and experience this example of true reconciliation as well as the gift of Love that motivates this forgiveness. Simply stated, we need to learn from our experience with God and take that to our own personal relationships with others that are hardest to share with – meaning those we don’t like or care to associate with. Hard to do for sure!
We live in a world right now that has much hate, anger and division. We need to be the beacons of light on behalf of our God. We need to light the pathway of reconciliation and relationship for the world. We need to remember that we will be judged on how we treat others and especially how we treat those we have the greatest trouble loving OR accepting. It’s hard – BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE to do!
Closing Prayer: Lord, sometimes I allow the thoughts, opinions, and actions of others to get the best of me, which produces anger and hardening of my heart. Lord, please soften my heart. Help me to be so firmly rooted in your love that I am not swayed by the people around me. Please Lord, help me to accept your unconditional love and then give me the willingness to extend it to those around me, especially those who are hardest to love.
Action for the Day: Take some time today to look at a relationship that has gone by the wayside for you. Think about what caused that and then try to think of a way to RESTORE that contact. Remember that to repair a broken relationship it takes more work that starting a new one. The bigger challenge today is to find the strength to take that first step! Get out your spiritual tool bag and get to work! In no time – with God’s backing – you will be able to return that tarnished relationship with a bright and shiny new one. Give it a try!