REFLECTION FOR TODAY
June 10, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, you shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.” Matt. 5:21-22
As Jesus taught his disciples about life in the kingdom of God, He made it clear that we fulfil the laws of this kingdom by practicing forgiveness and avoiding being angry or calling people names. This is reflected in our gospel reference today in the three deepening levels of sin that we commit against another.
The first level of sin is simply to be “angry” interiorly. The sin of anger is an interior attitude of disgust toward another. Jesus says that the consequence of being anger toward another is that you will be “liable to judgment.” The second level of sin is when you say to another “Raqa”, that is an expression of one’s anger toward another. This is a derogatory way of saying “you are unintelligent or inferior.” The third level of sin is when you call another “fool.” This word indicate that the person is a lost soul in a moral sense.
This admonition of Jesus against anger should not be seen as a burden but a blessing. It may seem that these laws and teachings against anger are negative. This is because lashing out at another gives a false sense of satisfaction, and the commands of Jesus, in a sense, “rob” us of that satisfaction. It can be a depressing thought to think about the moral obligation to forgive to the point that disordered anger disappears. But is it depressing? Is this law of our Lord a burden?
The truth Jesus teaches in our gospel reference today, is more for our own good than that of others. Our anger toward another, be it interior, verbally critical, or all-out condemning, can be hurtful toward the person with whom we are angry, but the damage it does to us is far worse. Being angry interiorly, even when we put on a happy face, does great damage to our soul and our ability to be united to God.
Reflect, today, upon the sin of anger. As you do, try to see your disordered anger as the real enemy rather than the person with whom you are angry. Pray to our Lord to free you from this enemy of the soul and seek the freedom that He wants to bestow.
Merciful Lord, You call us to perfect freedom from all that burdens us. Anger burdens us. Help me to see the burden that my anger imposes upon me and help me to seek true freedom through the act of forgiveness and reconciliation. Please forgive me, dear Lord, as I forgive all who have hurt me. Jesus, I trust in You.