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.
In this parable, I hear Jesus asking us to do the hard work of engaging (humbly, wholeheartedly) in human relationships—with brothers, yes, and also sisters, parents, children, friends, co-workers, partners. Be in right relationship with your people, he says. Show up, stay open, ask forgiveness: and then come and make an offering.
One of my first reactions is to shrug off this invitation to do the work of being in relationship as a mere suggestion. It would be easier to take the shortcut — to go right to silence and prayer, ask forgiveness from God, feel beloved and reassured.
Instead, God pushes me back towards earth first… where things are messy, where feelings are hurt, where misunderstandings take place, where all manner of communication styles and personality types must be navigated. This Lent, from whom do I need to ask forgiveness? For whom do I need to show up?
—Catherine Ruffing Drotleff servs as the Director of Development for the Ignatian Spirituality Project.
Life-giving God, grant me peace of mind and calm my troubled heart. My soul is like a turbulent sea. I can’t seem to find my balance so I worry and constantly stumble. Give me the clarity of mind and strength of heart to walk the path you lay out for me. I trust your love, my God, and know that you will heal this stress. Draw me close to you today. Amen.