“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.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus exhorting us to practice a kind of righteousness that is beyond average; a righteousness that exceeds that of the hypocrites notice-me-spirit; a righteousness that is maintains the same standards both in public and in secret. Jesus also warns that if our righteousness is not above average, there is no way we can enter the kingdom of God.
If you want to be a Christian at all, then be the best. Avoid minimalism! One of the elements of this extraordinary righteousness Jesus wants us to practice is radical forgiveness. The true worth of anyone’s Christianity can be tested in the fire of his/her ability to forgive and forget and reconcile. Before you boast about your holiness, ask yourself this question: “To what extent can I forgive?”
Honestly, forgiveness is a difficult topic. Today, Jesus is teaching us that if we are about to offer a gift to God and remember that someone has something against us, we should first reconcile before rendering our gift to God.
In truth, forgiving and reconciling with others is a painful thing to do; more painful if the person refuses to admit his/her fault or if the person is unwilling to cooperate in your move at reconciliation. Nevertheless, consider this pain as something rendered to God for as John says, we cannot claim to love God whom we have not seen if our hearts are full of hatred for our fellow brothers and sisters who we see daily. (1st John 3:20).
Is someone owing you some money and is refusing to pay back? Average righteousness demands that you fight the person so hard and demand a pound of flesh but the righteousness Jesus is preaching demands that you forget the money and consider it as something rendered to God.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me the grace to offer a sacrifice of forgiveness. Amen.
Bible Study: 2 Corinthians 3:15-4:1.3-6, Psalm 85 and Matthew 5:20-26).