A reading of the holy Gospel according to Matthew 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.”
REFLECTION: "But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment..."
What goes on in our hearts defines us. There are so many ways to kill life in others. Anger is usually the instrument of choice. Anger allowed to fester and take hold of our souls eventually will hurt us. We are asked to live the life Christ showed us; to seek out the person we are offended with or the person who has offended us and to remedy the situation before offering our gifts to the Lord. I wonder how many of us would actually be at Mass?
It is difficult to say, "I am sorry for what I did to you." It is likewise difficult to forgive what they did or did not do. Our soul sometimes enjoy being angry.
Dativa Nyangezi Ngaboyisonga, a survivor of ethnic violence in Rwanda, forgave her attackers of the violence and hatred she suffered. She said, "It's possible to change their hearts." Today there are killers and victims' families living side by side in peace. When we forgive we can bring healing and hope. God has forgiven us of our offenses. Should we not extend that which God has given to us to others?
However, we can be cold and distant as a way to punish for our perceived offenses. Is this what we want in our relationships--a tit for tat? Jesus says not to go there. By intentionally not forgiving those who hurt us we deny them their peace as well as denying ourselves peace. Let people know how their actions affected you. There might be a very good explanation, or the person who hurt you did not realize what they did.
Pope Benedict once said, "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." (Pastoral visit of His Holiness Benedict XVI to Bari for the Closing of the 24th Italian National Eucharistic Congress, May 29, 2005)
God Bless You