I tell you, if your sense of right and wrong is not keener than that of the Lawyers and the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
You have heard that it was said to our people in the past: Do not commit murder; anyone who murders 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 is liable to be brought before the council. Whoever calls a brother or sister “Fool!” is liable of being 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 your brother, 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.
Today’s gospel focuses on reconciliation, one of the basic themes presented to us during Lent. To reconcile with someone who has hurt us or someone whom we have wronged is an overwhelming challenge for our spiritual growth. Experience tells us that even taking the first step towards reconciliation can be difficult because the deeper the ties of love are, the more painful the wounds caused by offenses are. Anger, as the gospel tells us, can cause deep hurt and can lead to sinful actions such as insults. Unchecked anger can even lead to physical and verbal abuse. We know that the longer we nurture anger, the deeper it settles in our heart, feeding our spirit with resentment and depriving us of peace. To forgive the other is the first step towards reconciliation. Yet forgiveness is difficult because it makes us look at our selfishness, our judgments and expectations of the other, our negative reactions and to lay them aside while accepting the person as he or she is. It calls us to muster courage to approach the other in humility. Forgiveness may be hard but it is greatly fulfilling when we are able to reconcile with someone we deeply love.
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