Daily Meditation: St. Anthony of Padua, presbyter (June 13th)
Gospel text (Mt 5,20-26):
Jesus said to the crowds, «I tell you, then, that if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.
"You have heard that it was said to our people in the past: Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial. But now I tell you: whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial. Whoever insults a brother or sister deserves to be brought before the council; whoever calls a brother or a sister “Fool” deserves to be thrown into the fire of hell.
"So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with him, and then come back and offer your gift to God. Don't forget this: be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There you will stay, until you have paid the last penny".
«If you are not righteous in a much broader way (...), you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven»
Today, Jesus invites us to go beyond what any reliable law-abiding person can go. Even, without falling into any evil deeds, routine quite often hardens the desire of seeking sanctity, by comfortably adapting ourselves to the habit of just a good behavior, and nothing else. St. John Bosco used to say: «The good is the enemy of the best». It is there, where the Master's Word reaches us, inviting us to be righteous in a “much broader” way (cf. Mt 5:20) that starts from a different attitude. Bigger things that, paradoxically, look lesser and smaller. To get angry, to scorn and disown your brother are not the right things for the disciple of the Kingdom who is supposed to be —nothing less but— the salt of the earth and the light of the world (cf. Mt 5:13-16), as of the applicability of the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-12).
With authority, Jesus changes the interpretation of the negative precept “Do not kill” (cf. Ex 20:13), by the positive meaning of the deep and radical demand of reconciliation, which, for additional emphasis, is put in relationship to the cult. Thus, no offering is valid when «you remember that your brother has something against you» (Mt 5:23). This is why it is so important to settle any dispute as, otherwise, the invalidity of your offering will be turned against you (cf. Mt 5,26).
All this can only be attained through a great love. «Indeed —St. Paul will say—: the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet’, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. Love does no wrong to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law» (Rm 13:9-10). Help us beg to be renewed in the gift of charity —to the minimum detail— towards our neighbor, and our life will be the best and most authentic of all our offers to God.
Fr. Julio César RAMOS González SDB
Picture: britannica.com, giaophanphucuong.org