Reading: Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24.
Good morning, happy Thursday, and many blessings.
In today’s Gospel (Matthew 5:20-26) Jesus is talking about holding onto resentments, anger, hurt and perhaps even hate. I assume that most of us do not hate someone. However, I am sure that all of us have dealt with resentments, anger, hurt and jealousy at various times in our lives. These are emotions that we all have. They are “part and parcel” of being human. Do we always like these emotions? Most likely not! Yet, these emotions that we may consider negative are as much part of us as are the positive emotions, such as love, gratitude, appreciation, hope, understanding and faith!
As human beings, we experience both ends of the spectrum of emotions: positive and negative. Today Jesus is talking to his disciples about the choice we all have. We can choose to focus on the emotions that we know are positive and make us feel good: love, hope, generosity and faith! Or we can choose to focus on the emotions that disturb us and upset us: anger, jealousy, etc.
The reality is that our emotions are neither “bad” nor “good.” They simply are! However, we have to learn how to deal with the gamut of emotions. For those of you who are parents, how did you teach your children to deal with their emotions? Did you teach them to throw temper tantrums, hit others, etc.? I assume not! However, we do not always practice what we preach.
We all know what Jesus is asking us to do. It simply is not easy! At these times, it may be helpful to vent to a friend or to sit down and write a letter to God, expressing all that you are feeling in your journal. Most of all we need to pray for the grace, strength and wisdom we need at this time. What will we choose today? It is up to us! We have the power and God will give us the grace that we need! Do we trust this reality?
The “righteousness” of the Scribes and Pharisees was all about rule-keeping. Do this, don’t do that. But the righteousness that Jesus asks of his followers is not only greater, but different. It is about loving - loving God, and loving our fellow human beings, and showing that love in every way we can.
True religion is the religion of the heart. Jesus saw the good in the Pharisees but challenged them against any hypocrisy. He goes on to encourage us to live by one of the most difficult situations in life - to forgive and be reconciled with others. He lived that himself, to the last moments of the Cross when he forgave all who brought him to death.
How do I relate to others? My family? My friends? Strangers that I meet in the course of the day? Marginalized people? I sit with Jesus and try to look honestly at how I treat those I come in contact with. I for help to see the truth.