June 13, 2013

The Gospel Today

Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church 

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 (Sem. Enrico L. Terrel):

     Henry Ward Beecher once said, “speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will every regret.” This saying proves the power of our anger in terms of affecting negatively the message we want to convey to others. The sad thing is that the listeners of our message would be offended and might do something that they would definitely regret later on. Thus, we make a vicious cycle of hurt and violence that would go on and on unless someone would check his anger and keep his cool.

     The Fifth Commandment states that, “thou shall not kill.” However, Jesus interprets this law against killing in a new light by saying, “whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin.” Jesus is telling us that murder does not only pertain to the physical killing of a person but it is about destroying the dignity of the other through hurtful words. Moreover, every act of violence towards another person is rooted in an unresolved anger. As people relate with us, it is unavoidable that others would do, (either intentional or unintentional) something that would irritate or make us angry. To feel irritated and angry is not evil in itself because we are beings not only with reason but with emotions as well. The crucial question is what we do with our emotions particularly our anger? If we are unable to deal with anger constructively, we would surely do something to others which we would regret later on like saying an offending remark, attacking physically, having judgmental thoughts or ignoring the other as if he or she does not exist at all. God is inviting us to postpone any decision when we are in the peak of our anger. But once our emotions have already settled, we should engage in a peaceful dialogue with the one who offended us so that peace may be given a chance and love may rule.

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