Mt 5: 20-26

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Hard Work

In today’s Gospel Jesus raises the bar for us when he says “even if you are angry with someone you are subject to judgment.” If that was not enough, Jesus goes on to talk about what we need to do to reconcile with the other. What Jesus is suggesting is very contrary to my human nature. Instead of focusing on how I can reconcile with someone, I prefer to rehash our argument in my head for days or weeks.

This, however, is a trap that only keeps me stuck in the conflict, far away from doing the hard work of reconciliation. To reconcile often means we must take responsibility for the part we have played in a conflict. It may also mean reconciling with myself and letting go of a hurt or grudge that I allow to weigh me down.  What reconciling can I begin today?

—Brother Pat Douglas, S.J. lives and works at Creighton University, Omaha. He is also vocation promoter for the Wisconsin Province Jesuits.


“If we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God whom we cannot see?” 1 John 4:20.