Readings for Friday March 18, 2011
First Reading: Ezekiel 18:21-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 130
Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26
“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." (Mt 5:21-26)
Today we read in the gospel that whoever kills will be liable to judgment, but Jesus kicks it up a few notches and says that "whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment." Now I think that we would all agree that killing is very wrong, but getting angry with someone, we shouldn't even do that?!? I mean what is so wrong with getting angry with someone, especially if they did something wrong and deserve it? Why is it that Jesus is telling us to control our anger like this?
I think that the reason why we are told to control our anger is because we are called to be loving and merciful, not bitter and uncompassionate. If we think about this, letting anger live inside us can certainly can lead to resentment and other harsh feelings towards someone; who knows, if those feelings grow inside of us what they might lead us to do ... maybe even kill someone. Now, I know that that is an extreme example, but it does make a lot of sense. How often do you hear of murders or killings where one person was really happy with the victim? Unfortunately, many lives are taken out of anger and other feelings that can stem from anger. Now, the majority of people who get angry never let it get that far, but while anger may never lead someone to take a life, it can lead to feelings that block love and therefore block God in our lives. Jesus teaches us this about anger so that we can not only learn to forgive and love as God loves us, but to also learn how to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. If we are truly to be the men and women that we are called to be, then we must learn how to give in to love, rather than anger.
Today let us reflect on this passage from Saint Paul: "Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails." (1 Cor 13:4-8)
May we all learn to love as we are called to.
Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for the opportunity to go out and love others as you love us. Lord, help us to never let go of you, and to always follow your ways. Help us be slow to anger and quick to love. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.