Fr Paul Gooley reads today from the Gospel of Matthew (5: 20-26) in which Jesus says to his disciples ‘If you are offering your gift at the altar and remember that your brother or sister has something against you, first go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift’. Fr Paul says the theme of today’s Gospel is anyone who is angry with another will answer for it. The righteousness of the Christian must pass that of even the strict observance of the Jewish Law. The word ‘righteousness’ is a difficult one; it is hardly a current English word, except in the unpleasant concept of ‘self-righteous’. In scripture righteousness has two meanings, both involving a sense of rightness or justice. It is used firstly of God, who is ‘righteous’, true, in the sense that God observes his promises, can be utterly relied on. As for human beings, they too can be ‘righteous’ by committing themselves to God’s ‘righteousness’ through faith in him. So, Abraham, for example, was made ‘righteous’ by faith – he was ‘put right’ with God. A sign of this ‘righteousness’ is loving obedience to the Law given by God through Moses, a response in love to a gift in love. This is the second meaning of righteousness. In accordance with this, Jesus now gives six ways in which true righteousness goes beyond that of the Old Testament (and consequently of the Pharisees and their scribes, or lawyers). They do not consist in the slavish observance of every commandment but go beyond it, each in a different way. The first and last of these standards are about love and the practice of love. So, the whole teaching is about the fullness of love to God and the neighbour. The first standard is about the opposite of love, namely anger. Anger to a brother or sister creates such a painful wound in the Body of Christ that it rules out sacrifice and prayer. We must leave our sacrifice at the altar and go and be reconciled with our brother or sister. This is the importance in the exchange of greetings at the Sign of Peace in the Eucharist. The Peace filters down, hand to hand, from Christ at the altar to the whole congregation and those beyond. Fr Paul invites us to reflect on today’s Gospel Lesson – Lent is a time to overcome our anger with others and allow peace to be part of our lives.