February 27 – Beyond the Commandments
Jesus told His disciples, “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 the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.”
The Ten Commandments are the most “basic” rules to live by given to us by God through Moses. The Ten Commandments don’t outline matters of the heart, but Jesus tells us that we need to look deeper at the meaning of the commandment.
If we look at the sixth commandment at face value, “you shall not kill,” many will think, “Well, I have not gone out and killed someone with a gun or knife, or even my hands, so I don’t need to confess that in Reconciliation.” According to Jesus, this may not be the case. He is telling us that we don’t have to physically kill someone to be guilty of killing. If we have hurt someone with our words or actions, we are breaking their heart and spirit, which makes us just as guilty as physically killing them.
Oh my! How many times have we gotten angry and said things to hurt our parents or siblings? How about friends or even our enemies? Don’t wait another minute to make things right with the people we’ve hurt. We are to immediately drop what we are doing and ask for forgiveness or give forgiveness that we may be withholding.
Jesus tells us that if we don’t let go of that hate or give forgiveness that we are withholding, we will be put into a “prison” and will not be released until every penny is paid. This prison can be understood as the prison of hate and anger that we put ourselves in during this life. It can also be understood as purgatory after our death, which is a state of expiation for our sins. We need to go now and reconcile ourselves to our brothers , friends and especially our enemies. Do not stay in the prison of anger and hatred toward another.
Lent in Action:
Give forgiveness and let go of all hate.
My Savior Jesus, bring to my mind right now the person who I need to go to and forgive before the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Help me to learn and understand each of the commandments the way you intended them, so that I can better obey you in body, mind and soul. I ask this in your name. Amen.