Intention: That God may bless and protect all those who carry healing and peace to the poor, the abused, and the forgotten people of our world.
Today’s Gospel | 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. 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.”
A Lenten Reflection
In looking around the world and reflecting on the ups and downs of human history, one might wonder why God ever chose to become one of us. Saint Paul said that the purpose of the Incarnation was that God might reconcile the world to himself, moving to heal a broken humanity by revealing his loving presence in a very human way. This says much about the lengths to which God will go to help us put things right. It also says much about what lies at the center of where we often go so wrong.
Jesus taught his followers that, of all of the sins that persons might commit, perhaps the greatest is to break faith with one another. Division tears at the fabric of our very identities. Our wholeness as persons depends on our wholeness as a people, and so the more estranged we become, the more incomplete we are. Our way out of this sinfulness is reconciliation. To be reconciled one to the other is to restore the authenticity of community to the lives of both. And so we must, as Jesus says in today’s Gospel, find each other so that together we can remember ourselves as God created us to be.
Author Jeanette Winterson maintains, “You cannot disown what is yours…There is always the return. And the wound will take you there.” The key to reconciliation is that it attends to the pain and vulnerability that is in all of us and is begging to be healed. Lent offers to us time to reflect on these wounds and see them for what they are: common ground on which we are able to reunite with one another as prodigals, persons who went astray and broke faith with one another, but who now have summoned the courage to return home.
Eternal Father, your Son came to us so that, through his sacrifice on the cross, we would be reconciled to you and to each other. In this time of Lent, bring us together as one people. Help us to live together, sharing forgiveness and healing with one another. Inspire us to live in your ways of humility, peace, and justice. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.