June 11, 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 with him.
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.”
Often when we hear or read something, it can, as the saying goes, “go in one ear and out the other.”
But, when we experience something, it may well stick with us for life.
Forty seven years ago, in 1968, I “experienced” this passage from Matthew in a vivid and dramatic manner.
I was in Waterbury, CT with my business associate, Ed Allen, a convert to Catholicism. We attended mass at a local Catholic church and the gospel reading was the same as today’s.
After the priest gave his homily, my friend Ed rose from his seat, stepped out of the pew and walked halfway down the aisle. Ed stopped and quietly spoke to a man sitting in a pew. Then he and the man shook hands, and Ed came back and sat down next to me.
In a whisper, I asked him what his little trip was all about. But, he simply said, “Later.”
While at breakfast, I inquired again about his exchange with the man at mass.
Ed said, “Jim, I haven’t seen that fellow for close to twenty years. The last time he and I were together, we had a serious falling out. I couldn’t receive communion while holding a grudge against that man sitting in the same church with me. I had to go and apologize to him first before I could receive the Eucharist.”
I have always admired Ed’s strength of character and resolve to do the right thing in the eyes of
God. I’ve never forgotten that experience, and I try to live the lesson I learned from Ed that day. In honesty, I must admit I’m not always successful.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi – All Men are Brothers