For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.
So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
To follow Jesus is hard. In today’s Gospel, Jesus insists that I must reconcile with my brother before coming to God with my gifts, and I must settle with my opponent before appearing in court. In other words, I must not seek for greater honor, but rather for greater love.
How often, out of a desire to be right or to save face, do I flare up in anger, curse, or insult someone I love? How often, rather than directly approaching one who has hurt me, do I run instead to tell someone else of the injury, hoping they will take my side?
Jesus instead shows me his way: the way of the beatitudes, the way of the cross. There is no getting around the fact that to love as Jesus loves brings spiritual poverty, dishonor, and humiliations. It also brings fullness of life. Will I ask for this grace?
—Paula Sapienza is a spiritual director at Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House in Sedalia, Colorado.
I beg for the grace
that I be accepted into Christ’s company,
received under his standard,
as his intimate friend and disciple:
first, in the highest spiritual poverty,
and then also, if God would be served by it
and would be pleased to choose and accept me for it,
not less in actual poverty;
second, in suffering humiliations and insults
so as to imitate him more closely,
but only if I can suffer these without sin on the part on any person
and without displeasure to God.
—St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 147Please share the Good Word with your friends!