The Pruning

June 15, 2017
Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
The Gospel Today
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. Maximilian B. Estayo)

A common observation among us Filipinos is that when we are in a foreign country, we follow the traffic rules and all other regulations imposed by the governments there. But in our own country, we are lax and tend to skirt the law in every creative way we can imagine.

What’s wrong with the law and why we are averse to it? We do not like restrictions; when it is not interiorly understood, it even becomes a burden. But for one who has discovered that it is for his good, assent starts from the heart.

In the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus provides us with a new perspective on the commandments of God. In the time of Moses, the law was made to cure sin. But in Jesus’ time, it was a prevention to sin. Thus, anyone who is “angry with his brother” is already liable to judgment. This is because anger could lead us to more dire consequences that we would be sorry for later. Prevention is better than cure.

At this stage of seminary formation where I am now, I am undergoing a lot of pruning to shape me into the servant that would be most responsive to the demands of the priestly ministry. I have learned one thing – no one is too old to understand the rules in a new light. It is such a painful process but I am comforted by the foreknowledge that this would someday serve me in good stead when I would be there facing difficult situations.

Therefore, I am not an alien kowtowing to the rules of my host country, but a citizen of my own country faithfully following a law designed for my own wellbeing and that of my compatriots.

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