In the first reading this weekend, we are told that choosing to follow the law is choosing LIFE, rather than death. In our Gospel, we continue our walk through the Sermon on the Mount, with Jesus
assuring his disciples (and us) that he has come to FULFIL the law, not abolish it. He gives three examples; I would like to comment on the first one in which Jesus says that the law “thou shalt not kill” is fulfilled by not being angry at another. This is so important to understand, because of all the anger, mean speech, and hatred that we find in the world around us.
Jesus is not saying that feeling anger is wrong. If someone hurts us, feelings of anger just come. We can’t stop them. They are not a sin. It is what we DO with them that is important. If I give in to the feelings, if I harbor them, if I hurt the other person, that is wrong. But if I do my best to deal with the feelings by working it out with the other, if possible, I am choosing life. If I can’t work out the differences, I can pray for the person and make sure I do nothing
negative against them. That also is choosing life. We are so much happier and the world around us is so much more at peace when we can deal with feelings of anger in a positive way.
Jesus emphasizes the importance of this by telling us to leave our gift at the altar and go and be reconciled. In other words, it is more important to be reconciled with another as best we can than to come and worship God. That is a strong statement.
Where are we in terms of this challenge? Are there people against whom I hold grudges, anger, or resentment? What can I do to be reconciled? If I can’t bring about reconciliation, can I pray for that
other person and not let the anger control me?
By ourselves, this is very, very difficult. With the grace of God, it is possible and everyone will be happier because we have chosen life! “Lord, help me to forgive as you forgave on the cross.”
Church sign of the week: At the heart of every sin is the letter “i.”