February 27, 2015

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.”
There is a basic principle set forth in this gospel passage.
I cannot be at peace with God and at the same time harbor a grudge against another person.
Any repentance I may offer to God for my actions must be accompanied by an effort to make peace with the person who I have wronged.
This, of course, calls for honest “self” examination of “my” conduct as it pertains to any difficulty I’ve had with another person.
The death toll of “self” examination is justification and rationalization, i.e., “Well, I had a ‘right’ to be angry and say those things after what they did to me.”
As soon as I consider the wrong doings of the other person, it is no longer “self” examination.
This process is set forth as Step Nine in the program of Alcoholic Anonymous and is referred to as “making amends.”
As is so often true in scripture, we once again see the analogy between the love of the human parent for their children and the love of God for us, his children.
The adult son says to his elderly mother, “Mom, I want to get you something you will really like for Mother’s Day. Please tell me what would make you happy.”
The mother smiles and replies, “If you really want to make me happy son, please make peace with your brother. You haven’t spoken to him in years. I don’t want to die knowing you two aren’t talking to each other.”
The son, upon self examination, will go and make amends with his brother and give this as his gift to his mother. She will be overjoyed, just as our Heavenly Father is pleased when we reconcile with our brother and sister.