First Friday of Lent

Readings: Ez 18: 21-28 / Ps 130: 1-8 / Mt 5: 20-26

Jesus warns his disciples that they will have to be more righteous than the scribes and Pharisees—the recognized religious authorities—if they harbor hope of gaining entry to the Kingdom of Heaven.  

Jesus isn’t in a very compromising mood.  Imagine righteous religious authorities who back the right texts and obey the right laws and who, in their law-and-order perfection, expect Heaven’s gate to be left wide open for them.  Here we imagine too meanly.  

The law says, “Don’t kill your brother.” But it is not enough not to kill your brother.  You must get over your anger toward him. The law says, “Don’t belittle your sister.”  But it is not enough not to belittle your sister. You must get over your contempt for her.  The strangers we imagine we are leaving behind, as we go forth in alienated integrity to the altar, are the brothers and sisters we have yet to recognize and embrace.   Jesus loves us too much to let us into the sanctuaries of the blessed without our extended families.  Here his forgiveness is exacting: those whom we have judged, in our anger and contempt, will be permitted to judge us.  

There is no path to Heaven that is not a way through reconciliation.

James Wetzel