Join us as we reflect, ponder, and pray together inspired by today's Gospel.
Today's Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26 - Memorial of Saint Barnabas
The gospel for today tells us that we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven if we are not more righteous than the scribes and Pharisees. At first glance, that statement could definitely take the wind out of our sails. These were the religious leaders; they followed Jewish law and rituals perfectly. If they were not righteous enough, then what hope is there for the rest of us? But that is just it -- Jesus wasn’t impressed with their outward performance. He told them again and again that their hearts were far from Him. They were really good at following the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law, and for all the wrong reasons.
It is easy to read Scripture and gloss over these accounts of the Pharisees, as if they have nothing to do with us. However, Jesus means for us to heed His warning and consider how we are like the Pharisees. Jesus is not interested in religious performance that leaves our hearts unchanged. It is not just the outward keeping of the law that Jesus wants, but the inner transformation of the heart. The righteous heart is the one that keeps the two greatest commandments: love God and love your neighbor.
In this gospel Jesus is not satisfied with one’s ability to refrain from killing another, for hate can easily still thrive in that heart. Jesus requires more: don’t be angry with your brother; be reconciled to the person that finds fault with you; make friends with your accuser. The command to love our brother is much harder to keep than the command to not take his life. It seems for us to be more righteous than the Pharisees we must practice love, that such practice will transform our hearts.
Who are you harboring anger against in your heart? To whom do you need to be reconciled?
Lord Jesus, expand my heart’s capacity for love. Give me the power of Your Holy Spirit today to practice love.
Copyright 2020 Jessica Ptomey
About the Author
Jessica Ptomey is a Catholic convert, wife, mom, writer, communications scholar and professor, and homeschooler. She blogs at JessicaPtomey.com. She is the author of Home in the Church: Living an Embodied Catholic Faith, and her research in inter-faith dialogue has been published in the Journal of Communication and Religion (JCR). She is also the co-host, with her husband Mike, of The Catholic Reading Challenge podcast.