Memory of Jesus crucified

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Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Matthew 5, 20-26

'For I tell you, if your uprightness does not surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of Heaven.

'You have heard how it was said to our ancestors, You shall not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court.

But I say this to you, anyone who is angry with a brother will answer for it before the court; anyone who calls a brother "Fool" will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and anyone who calls him "Traitor" will answer for it in hell fire.

So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,

leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering.

Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison.

In truth I tell you, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The passage from the Gospel of Matthew that we have heard is part of the great Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has just said that he did not come to abolish but to fulfil the law. This means that he is not alien to the law; rather he captures in it the profound thought of God, His very heart. Justice is not an exterior egalitarianism, which is impossible, but the implementation of the unlimited love of God. With a severe rebuke Jesus adds, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus means that being as good as the Pharisees is like being not good at all. He explains it with words that no one had dared to use before, and no one has heard if not from the Gospel. He starts recalling the fifth commandment: “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder;’ and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement.” Jesus is not proposing new records (adding two more cases – when you say ‘Raqa’ and ‘fool’ to your brother), or a new juridical praxis, he rather proposes a new way of understanding human relationships. He goes straight to the heart of hatred, which leads to eliminate the opponent. Hatred begins in little things, like anger that characterizes our co-existence, and in words that seem to be harmless, as it is when you say Raqa or fool to another one. Jesus affirms that only love is the fulfilment of the law and that only love can lead beyond enmity. Therefore we need to pass from a negative precept (you shall not murder, not say fool, not be angry), to the positivity of friendship. Love is the new power Jesus has donated to human beings. He says that exercising love has such a high value that it requires, when missing, even the interruption of the supreme act of worship. “Mercy” is more valuable than “sacrifice”; worship, intended as a relationship with God, cannot be divided from a relationship of love with people. Love should chair our actions. Therefore, Jesus’ advice is to settle with your opponent instead of going to court. It is not just the fact of avoiding prison; it is rather a brotherly style which overcomes pure legal compliance.