February 19, 2016

Gospel MT 5:20-26
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you,
unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.
“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.”
Reflection:
“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.”
I remember 40 years ago when I was attending Mass in Waterbury, Connecticut with Ed, a convert to Catholicism. As the priest was reciting the Eucharistic prayer, Ed rose from the pew and walked down the aisle to speak with a man. After a brief, whispered conversation followed by a handshake, Ed returned and sat next to me. After Mass I asked him about his visit to the man.
Ed said, “Jim, I haven’t seen that fellow in years. The last time we spoke, we had a terrible argument, and I said some things that were very rude. I had to apologize to him before I could receive the Lord in the Eucharist.”
This story of Ed and today’s gospel reminds me of the times I have been walking up the aisle to receive communion and have remembered someone whom I have offended or have an unresolved dispute.
The question has popped into my mind: Should I receive communion or not?
What I’ve concluded is that God wants me to receive His Body and Blood, not only when I have received absolution, but also to give me the strength to “do the next right thing.”
So before receiving communion, I make a commitment to contact the person with whom I have had the dispute and make an effort to apologize for any wrong on my part, i.e., “to sweep my side of the street.”
God does not expect me to be at peace with everyone in the world. But, He hopes I will make the effort to be at peace with myself and with Him.
“First be at peace with yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.” Thomas Kempis