The Good News for the day, February 23, 2018

Friday of the First Week of Lent (228)

Jesus says to people he inspires: “Here is the truth as I see it: unless your goodness gets beyond the way smart people and religious leaders (Pharisees) act, you will not get into the Realm of what is Right “You have heard it said to all the people before you, You are not to kill; and anybody who kills will be liable to judgment. But I am telling you, anybody even angry with a sister or brother will have people judge them. Anybody calling his sister or his brother, “Worthless”, will be answerable to a public judgment (Sanhedrin), and anybody saying, “Idiot!” can go in the trash or junkyard (Gehenna). The result? If you are bringing your donation to the collection at church—and remember your brother or sister is holding something against you, drop your donation, go first and get reconciled with that family member—then, come and give your donation. Settle with any opponent of yours quickly–even on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent is going to hand you over to some judge, who will hand you over to the sheriff, and you are going to go to prison. The truth is, you won’t get out of it until you have been squeezed to your last penny.” (Matthew 5)

This familiar reminder to avoid anger and contention is distracting because it is so easy to see it—and accept it—as merely a straightforward moral picture of how to behave. But it is much more important than that.  It is about your whole attitude.

Look at our country’s political world now, at our social climate, and at our national divisions and factions. Appreciate that we are all part of it because you and I like to think “I am right” while “that person,” “that ideology or political party,” or “those idiots” are anti-Jesus, anti-goodness. This gospel points you and me to backtrack, to run back into our own hear and conscience—to rediscover the spirit of Jesus.

Today’s gospel calls us to respect differences of opinion, to avoid superiority, to seek forgiveness, and to work for peace. However “righteous” you and I feel ourselves to be—other people have their own goodness, their conscience, and their—yes—worth as fellow Children of God—the Family of God. We need no judge for that.

Our “goodness’ must not kowtow to smart people (lest we think we are the “really” smart ones) and even religious leaders (as though we have a lock on religious correctness.). Anger is wrong, as is contempt, arising from pride. Our Call—The Good News—is that to exhibit love, humility, patience and caring, not disdain, superiority and rejection. We are on a Way of the Cross, not a Parade of Triumph. Our prayers are hugs, not hate—peace, not contention—healing and not “getting on our high horse!” Otherwise, it goes on and on—relentless hostility—to the last penny.

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