Today's Gospel: Matthew 5, 20-26 - Day of Abstinence
Jesus is challenging our concept of sin today. Throughout Matthew 5 we hear about how sin goes beyond just committing physical acts that harm ourselves or others. Sin also includes our attitudes and thoughts as well, which can be much more difficult to master. Jesus’ challenge reminds me of all of the times I’ve been angry at someone:
When I was angry at my boss or a close friend’s boss at work who made life difficult for them.
When I was angry at a roommate for leaving a mess, or for giving me a hard time for not being generous to them.
When I was angry at my parents as a child when they made me do something I didn’t want to do.
But Jesus is not trying to make us feel awful about the times when we got mad. He wants to stress the importance of seeking forgiveness. “Go first and be reconciled.”
There is a reason Jesus says this needs to be done before bringing a gift to the altar. A lack of forgiveness hurts our relationship with God and with each other. That’s why we as Catholics are encouraged to receive the sacrament of reconciliation as often as possible - it helps our relationships with him and with the other people in our lives.
None of us are perfect enough to enter the kingdom of heaven by our own merits. It is God’s grace and forgiveness that gets us there, which we receive simply by asking for it. Jesus’ instruction to ask forgiveness from your brother before he hands you over to the judge applies when we need to ask another person for forgiveness, but also when we need to ask God for forgiveness and when we need to ask ourselves for forgiveness too.
Who do I need to ask for forgiveness from? Who do I need to forgive for wronging me, either by talking to them or simply forgiving them in my own heart?
Lord, help me to avoid anger towards those who frustrate me, and ask for forgiveness from them when I act out on that anger. Help me to love like you do and always see the good in those around me.
Copyright 2016 Alex Johannigman
Alex Johannigman is a business analyst by day, theology graduate student by night, youth minister on the weekends, and blogger at All That Catholic Jazz when he should be sleeping. He developed a love for the homeless after serving as a missionary with Christ in the City and he enjoys teaching about St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.