In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus says: “Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:19). Jesus does not only promote the following of the commandments in the Scriptures. Today, He also invites His listeners to evaluate the quality of their following of these commandments. Thus, He cautions them, “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven” (v 20).
Ordinary people in Jesus’ time could not imagine ever matching the piety of the scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus, however, underlines that piety has to be coupled with integrity and sincerity. Righteousness can never be equated with self-serving practice of religion. Nor is it enough to follow the commandments superficially. Evil has to be seen from its root. It is not enough not to murder someone; we must guard against harboring anger that leads to insults and broken relationships. For Jesus, a right relationship is so vital that one should forego religious practices until one has cleared the matter between her/him and the other person.
GOSPEL • MATTHEW 5:20-26
Jesus said to His disciples: “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. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2021,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.