Shane Hyland, the Leader of Evangelisation at St Joseph’s Regional College reads from the Gospel of Matthew (5:20-26) in which Jesus says, ‘If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.’
Shane says this is another challenging passage from Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus is using examples from the law of Moses to show how much more he expects of his disciples. In effect, Jesus is giving examples of what it means to live the Beatitudes. It would also appear that he is publicly making his authority known when he says, “you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill … but I say this to you”. This is not something that the scribes or the Pharisees would ever dare to say. They would quote the law and perhaps refer to the opinions of other rabbis but no one would ever re-phrase the law or put it into their own words.
This would have been a difficult thing for them to hear but Jesus knows that the inner life of many is in need of transformation. A transformation that takes stock of the heart, of evil intentions towards the other. It is no longer good enough to simply ‘not kill’, to not act on evil thoughts.
Jesus says that anger in our hearts and slander towards others causes us to act in destructive ways and he wants his hearers to pay closer attention to their inner life. And when you find there inside you feelings of contempt or hatred of another you should attempt to make it right with them.
Jesus teaches that, before you worship God, if you have something against another, you should seek to reconcile with them first.
The people that inhabit the kingdom of God are humble and are able to recognise their failings and seek reconciliation.
Kingdom people are also peacemakers, we should always seek to be at peace with each other and be gentle or meek as we go about reconciling.
And finally, Jesus warns us, to use our time wisely because, before we know it, it will be too late.