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.
I’ve been following this young rabbi since he first came to Galilee. I go to hear him whenever I can, and everyone in the village is talking about him.
He talks a lot about love—love of God, love of neighbor. A few days ago he talked for a long time about how blessed it is to be poor in spirit, merciful and pure of heart.
But today he had a message that was in sharp contrast: if we don’t act out of love, we can expect to be punished! I was shocked at first, but then I realized: how can I claim to be merciful or pure of heart if I approach God while nursing grievances against my brother? How can I claim to “love my neighbor as myself” if I’m lashing out in anger?
Love is not abstract!
—Barbara Lee is a spiritual director, an Ignatian Volunteer, and the author of God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet: Discovering the Spiritual Graces of Later Life published by Loyola Press
Heavenly Father, give me a pure heart. Give me a heart that is big enough to let go of resentments and grievances, a heart that is able to forgive and to ask forgiveness. Give me a heart to love as Jesus loved—as Jesus loves.