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 those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.
So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
In the Gospel reading today Jesus tells us that reconciliation should take precedence over an offering to God.
His teachings here are similar to Mark 11:25 where Jesus says “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Grudges do not just separate us from others, they separate us from God.
Lent is a time for repentance, but not just within the Confessional. Jesus wants us to forgive our brothers and sisters. He gave us the words “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus’ spirit of forgiveness should be on our minds throughout our Lenten Journey.
Remember that, as the Psalm of today says, “For with the Lord is kindness and with Him is plenteous redemption.” Jesus is continuously telling us to forgive others and to not harbor resentment. When was the last time you received the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Who do you need to reconcile with right now?
—Devyn Buschow is the Director of Youth Ministry at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Duncanville, TX. She currently lives in the Dallas area with her husband, Justin, who also works in Catholic youth ministry.
Lord, if we find resentment or anger dragging down our spirit, grant us a reprieve from such negativity that sucks the joy from our life. Increase our trust that by staying in prayer with you we will wrestle through our hurt and in time move toward forgiveness. And may we follow the advice of Pope Francis to allow Lent to be a time of “giving up, taking up, and lifting up.”
—The Jesuit Prayer Team