Do you ever feel like the scriptures are outdated and hard to relate to? Not this one! In this day of “righteous anger,” “outrage,” Twitter wars and never-ending personal attacks on social media, today’s gospel has as much relevance as it ever did. Jesus puts things in stark perspective, telling His disciples in no uncertain terms to put aside their anger, their name-calling and their petty disputes. If they don’t, they will be liable to God’s judgment, perdition in “fiery Gehenna” and being thrown in jail. Apparently, common courtesy and reconciliation go a long way in God’s eyes. They even come before the act of worshiping God! Jesus very clearly wants us to treat each other with kindness, resolve our differences and settle our disputes before they get out of hand. That’s a tall order.
We like holding on to our grievances. They make us feel like the victim, and victimhood entitles us to righteous anger and gives us permission to shout at, harass and confront others. After all, if we are convinced that we are right, then everyone else must be wrong. In God’s eyes, though, it doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong in human terms. Whoever is angry with their brother or sister needs to reconcile, regardless of the cause of their dispute. Whoever calls their brother or sister “fool” (As an aside, what would Jesus think of the the nasty things we routinely call each other today?), will be doomed in the afterlife to the abode of the wicked (Gehenna). Whoever does not quickly settle financial disputes in a fair and equitable way will, themselves, be thrown in jail. God’s rules apply to everyone, regardless of political party, religion, citizenship, social class or any other human distinction.
Before being quick to anger, hurl insults, jump to attack mode and take offense, we should remember that reconciliation, forgiveness, kindness and equity are what God demands. Maybe then we can begin the difficult process of putting our personal relationships, society and political system in order. Loving your neighbor as yourself is what God wants to see in his people.
-Liz Liwo, Middle School Counselor, wife to Karl mom to Brian