A beautiful Friday morning outside. All the kids got up on their own, and dressed without last-minute emergencies,; then found their own food to eat. They left for school after giving me a hug and saying something like, “I love You,” or “See you later dad.” Why do I feel concerned about the absence of some type of ‘upset’ today?
The reflection today is about how we are to act as Christians. This reflection contains a little history narrative about Jewish laws and ancient Jerusalem, to help put things in perspective.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
“If Sampson killed 10,000 men with the jawbone of an ass, how much more can God fight with a complete ass like me?” – St. John of the Cross
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. (NAB Mt 5:20-22)
God wants us all to live in love, respect, and honor. These are the highest and most important virtues, and principles, in life. The actions listed in this first part of today’s Gospel reading are examples of the conduct demanded of the followers of Christ. Each act deals with a commandment of Jewish law, and is then followed by Jesus’ teaching in regards to that rule or commandment of faith.
We’ve all been angry at some time in our lives. And chances are we are all going to be angry again in the future. After losing my job due to health reasons, I was very angry. I now admit I even cussed out God, and anything that had to do with Him. I was mad at the world and everything in it, including me. With time, patience, and divine interaction, I have actually grown closer to our Lord in heaven than ever before, and I love Him so dearly. I now thank Him for the grace to suffer for others, in His name.
We need to forgive those that have hurt us. By forgiving them, we can again see Jesus in them. This simple act of forgiveness will change our hearts, and bring us just a little closer to being like Christ. This gospel reading is all about forgiveness. Reconciliation with any offended brother or sister of God is the message in this admonition.
Anger is the motive behind the act of murder, and insulting epithets are steps that may lead to it. They, as well as the deed, are all forbidden in Jesus’ kingdom. In the above verses, the word “Raqa” is used. Raqa is an Aramaic word, probably meaning “imbecile or blockhead:” and definitely a term of abuse. Abusive language is also forbidden by Jesus.
We are disciples of Christ. We were created in His image, and we are goal is to be like Jesus in all ways. Definitely is not an easy proposition at all, but the path to salvation is a rocky and difficult road to transverse. We need to look past other peoples faults.. We need to see Jesus in them instead. We need to witness their hurt, pain, hopes and dreams; and to help them as is possible by our means.
The severity of the “judge” in the parable above, is a warning of the fate for any unrepentant sinners in the coming judgment by God. Per my studies for this reflection, the ascending order of punishment during the time of Jesus started at judgment by a local council; then trial before the Sanhedrin; and ends with condemnation to Gehenna. The gospel reading points to a higher degree of seriousness in each of the offenses listed in the verses above. The Sanhedrin was the highest judicial body of Jewish people.
Gehenna is translated from Hebrew to mean “Valley of Hinnom, or “Valley of the son of Hinnom.” Gehenna was southwest of Jerusalem, and the center of an idolatrous cult at one point, in which children were offered in sacrifice to a pagan god called Moloch, by followers of Ba’al. Gehenna was a trash dump, and a burning pit for trash; not too far south from Golgotha, at Jesus’ time.
The concept of punishment for sinners by fire, either after death or the final judgment, is found in Jewish apocalyptic literature such as in the Jewish “Book of Enoch, Chapter 90:26” [And I saw at that time, how a similar abyss was opened in the middle of the Earth which was full of fire, and they brought those blind sheep and they were all judged, and found guilty, and thrown into that abyss of fire and they burned. And that abyss was on the south of that house.] The name geenna (a Greek derivation of the word Gehenna) is given to a place of punishment, for the first time, in the New Testament.
“Lord, give me the courage to forgive and forget any transgressions towards me. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Isabel of France
Sister of St. Louis and daughter of King Louis VIII of France and Blanche of Castile, she refused offers of marriage from several noble suitors to continue her life of virginity consecrated to God. She ministered to the sick and the poor, and after the death of her mother, founded the Franciscan Monastery of the Humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Longchamps in Paris. She lived there in austerity but never became a nun and refused to become abbess. She died there on February 23, and her cult was approved in 1521. Her feast day is February 26th.
(From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #26:
As a concrete sign of communion and co- responsibility, the councils on various levels, in keeping with the constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well prepared religious for spiritual assistance. They should make this request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan families, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries. To promote fidelity to the charism as well as observance of the rule and to receive greater support in the life of the fraternity, the minister or president, with the consent of the council, should take care to ask for a regular pastoral visit by the competent religious superiors as well as for a fraternal visit from those of the higher fraternities, according to the norm of the constitutions.