THE WORD BECAME FLESH
Thursday of Tenth week in Ordinary Time, 2021
2 Cor 3:15-4:1, 3-6
Matt 5: 20-26
Dear friends in Christ, in every age, there are people seen as models of righteousness among the people. They are sometimes the kings and princes and at other times the religious leaders. They are accorded great honour and respect by the people and believed to be nearer to God than the rest of the populace. If they fail to live up to the ideals of their office, it becomes a scandal to those who hold them in high esteem. That is why we say, ‘He who takes himself to stand, let him take heed, lest he fall.’
Our Gospel passage of today (Matthew 5:20-26) follows the passage in which Jesus warned his followers, never to think that he has come to abolish the laws and the prophets, rather that he has come to fulfil them. The law and the prophets have their place in our relationship with God and our neighbours. Those who were seen by the people of his time as the embodiment of the laws, were the scribes and the Pharisees; but Jesus tells them that they have to be better than the scribes and the pharisees in the way they live. “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” That must have surprised them all. The scribes were the experts of the law. The Pharisees were the judges of the observance. The scribes explain the principles, the Pharisees made it their responsibility to judge the people on what they did, in observing the law.
For Jesus, rather than wait till a sin is committed, he wants his followers to avoid what could lead to sin outrightly. For example, the fifth commandment says, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills, shall be liable to judgement.’ On the other hand, Jesus tells his followers, “I say to you, that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement…” Stop the provocation which leads to anger, since anger it is, that leads to killing the other. That was why Jesus said, “And whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.” He knows, that is capable of provoking the other to anger. You cannot claim innocence of the other persons anger when you rain insults and curses upon him. Jesus invites us to sue for peace before the situation becomes a case to be judged by the third party.
If we must do that to avoid an earthly judge, we must even be more concerned about the eternal judge, who is a loving and forgiving God, yet will judge each and everyone of us. Like Jesus said after teaching the Lord’s prayer, ‘Neither will my father forgive you, unless you learn to forgive your brother from your heart.’
Let us pray: Almighty God, left to ourselves, we do not merit your pardon, in your kindness be merciful to us sinners and give us the grace to be merciful to those who offend us. Amen.