Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
If you, O Lord, laid bare our
How could our holiness possibly "surpass" that of the people of Jesus' day who obeyed every letter of the law? Jesus tells us that there is a "holiness" that takes us deeper than letter of the law fidelity. It must of been a startling but wonderful message for his first hearers, for Matthew's community, and for the early Catechumens preparing for Christian Initiation at the Easter Vigil. They could, indeed, surpass the holiness of perfect observance of the law. It is a wonderful word for us in our Lenten journey.
Most, if not all, of us can boast of never having committed murder. Today Jesus asks us to reflect upon those times, those relationships in which something deadly has happened. His challenge to us is that we not only avoid murder, but that we commit ourselves to being reconcilers. No harsh, wound inflicting words. No dirty fighting. No manipulative, passive-aggressive, revengeful stuff. Perhaps no punishing silence.
He even says that if, while I'm "bringing my gift to the altar," I recall that "someone has something against me," I should leave my gift at the altar and go work on reconciliation. What that might mean for each of us is incredible. How many times, when I'm trying to pray, am I distract by the felt memory of something I've done, or failed to do, in this or that relationship! This seems to be an invitation from Jesus to "put down" my efforts to put that "distraction" away so I can pray. Jesus is calling me to start reflecting upon my need to be reconciled with my sister or brother.
Reconciliation begins with experiencing sorrow and asking for forgiveness. Saying, "I'm sorry, please forgive me," is a wonderful breakthrough moment. However, there is much deep, rich reflection and personal conversion that can, and perhaps must, accompany this level of reconciliation. Why did I do what I did? What was I choosing, reacting to, or making a point about? In what part of this conflict was I being selfish, stubborn, wanting it my way? What part involved a call to surrender, let go, or compromise? Is some part of this fight a "cover-up" for some real sin on my part? Am I being dishonest in this relationship, in some way? Was my anger really about something else? Did it come out of an insecurity, a tender spot, a vulnerable place because of past hurts? Is some part of this fight revealing a need for healing in me, a need for me to turn to the Lord for forgiveness and mercy?
Lord, grant me your tender mercy. Let me experience your unconditional love. Fill my heart with healing. Let your love calm every storm in my heart. Let your compassion find its way into every place within me that is unreconciled with you, and with others. Then, Lord, send me forth, accompanied by your own compassion and peace. May all conflict and division, all hurt and hatred, be quenched by mercy. Let there be reconciliation on earth, and let it begin with me.
If you, O Lord, mark iniquities,
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