June 12, 2014

The Gospel Today 

Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 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. Herwyn Bulaun):

     Some legal experts said that the Philippine laws are one of the best in the world in terms of its approach to human dignity and preservation of life. Although, the application and the way it is practiced have many loopholes. The enforcement is dependent on the status of the person in the society. There is a notion here that if the person holds influence and position in the country, the law will be applied in a very subtle and very slow phasing. On the other hand, when the person involved belongs to the poor and the marginalized, rest assure before the sun dawns that the law is swiftly enforced against the person. I am not saying that the parties here will be tolerated from their wrong doings, but the application of the law has the tendency to go to the side of those in power. Sometimes if the parties involved cannot use their status, they will go around the law and focus on the technicalities.

     In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks each of us that unless we surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees and Scribes you cannot enter to the kingdom of heaven. The Pharisees and the Scribes were the experts of the lay during the time of Jesus. They were given high esteem in the society because of this. However, similar to our present administration of human laws, they used their expertise to appear righteous in the eyes of the society. They interpreted the laws based on their convenience. The message of the Gospel is to surpass and go beyond the letters of the law.

     I have a good seminarian friend who is currently studying his theology. During his first year in formation he was assigned in a poor parish for exposure. He was accommodated by a foster   family who belong to the poverty line. One apostolate weekend, he got information that the son of his foster family needs blood transfusion. If my memory is correct, he mentioned to me that it’s almost time to go back to the seminary. However, he took the risk and donated blood. He took the risk even if this might have caused him to suffer disciplinary action for being late. Later on he got the nod and affirmation for what he did.

     The laws are there to guide our actions but should not limit us to reach out especially those in need. The challenge is to transcend the letters of the law. That is loving despite of unlikableness of person. As, Mother Teresa of Calcutta said “love until it hurts until I hurts no more”.

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