Without truly loving God, we can’t truly love a person for everything that they are—good and bad.

Jesus utters what sounds like a dire warning. Unless you are more righteous than the seemingly most righteous among you, you will not see heaven. But . . . is this as bad as all that? No. In fact, it is very, very simple to be more righteous than those who are righteous by practice and human means. Indeed, the righteousness that comes from God Himself through His Son Jesus Christ is our own righteousness, for us to put on and to claim. Jesus, through His death and resurrection found for us a new source of righteousness–a source that wells up from the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who prays for us in words that surpass human comprehension. So, fear not, so long as you love Jesus and accept Jesus into your life through Mass, the Holy Eucharist and daily prayer, you have the righteousness He spoke of. He has given it to you from all eternity to all eternity.

With truth and faith in God’s plan, it becomes easier to love and forgive.  Relationships can sometimes be a struggle, and it is easy to get angry and say or think hurtful things.  But in Matthew’s Gospel, he says we will not be free until we have reconciled with our brother.  If we place our full trust in God, knowing that He has a plan for us and that His love is true, this is the first step towards forgiving our brother.  Without truly loving God, we can’t truly love a person for everything that they are—good and bad.  But it is necessary to love people that way—a truly agapic, self-giving love.  A friend once told me that even if I don’t love people’s actions at all times, I still need to love them because they are children of God.  This friend was a voice of truth in my life, reminding me of who I want to be and what it really means to love.

Jesus calls us to be holy as He is holy – to be holy in every aspect of our conduct. Our holiness may need to surpass even that of those we consider holy. We must become the very righteousness of God and become perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. Jesus’ standards for holiness are the highest ever set for human beings. In fact, they are humanly impossible – but absolutely necessary for us to see God, that is, go to heaven. Jesus tells those listening that their virtue needs to go much deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees. Under the Old Law, You must not kill was the benchmark, but Jesus expects much more from His followers. He addresses the subject of anger and He wants them to resolve their anger arising from or in their personal relations. It is no good them making offerings before the altar while there is unresolved anger in their heart. They need to hold out the olive branch, seeking reconciliation.

As Christians, we need to heed this advice. Our challenge is to become peacemakers. Unresolved anger in us creates blockages in our relationship with our Creator God. Lord, we pray for the grace to help us resolve any anger in our heart. Anger is one of the most difficult emotions that we have to contend with at every turn in our journey through life. As many of us have experienced, there are various degrees of anger that we have to deal with – from being irritated by a pesky child, to a mild frustration with the incompetence of others, up to the extreme hatred against a person who has injured us maliciously. Like other emotions, anger is a very human response to an unjustified, mindless, or uncaring act or situation. Getting angry then is not necessarily wrong, but how we react in proportion to the cause of our anger is. Feeling angry at a driver who mindlessly cuts us is a natural reaction, but bumping his rear end is not. What our Lord Jesus is referring to in today’s Gospel is giving vent to our aggression, after allowing hatred to build up inside our heart. And “flying into a rage” is not the only form of aggression. It can also be verbal, like name-calling, foul language or insults hurled at another person who has offended us.

Lord Jesus, there is anger in my heart and I cannot root it out.I know that I should calm down and offer the hurt and disappointment to You but my emotion is running away with me.
Help me to overcome this weakness and give me peace of heart as well as mind. Let me learn from this experience and grow into a better human being. Amen.

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