“Whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”

In today’s gospel passage (Mt 5:20-26), Jesus begins by telling His disciples that they must be more righteous that their religious leaders if they hope to gain heaven.  Then He gives an example how: Not only should they obey the commandment “do not kill” but they must not even grow angry with another person (see above).  Reconciliation is required before coming to the altar, even with an opponent with whom they might have a legal dispute.  In the latter case, if reconciliation is not sought, prison might await and no release can be hoped for “until you have paid the last penny” (v. 26).  What a challenge Jesus presents us!  A severe judgment, even possibly hell, awaits those who hold unrighteous anger toward a brother.  And who is our brother?  Jesus says that His “brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it” (Lk 8:21; also see Mt 12:50).  But we desire all men to be our brothers in the Faith, so should not this attitude extend (arguably even more so) to our neighbor as well?  And who is our neighbor?  In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus concludes by saying that “the one who treated him with mercy” was the neighbor to the man left for dead (Lk 10:37a).  So mercy, not anger, is the proper attitude toward ALL persons (in this we imitate God).  “Go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37b).

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