Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 5:20-26’
Mercy: The Antidote to Anger and Self-Righteousness – Br. Michael Hardgrove
In our Gospel lesson today, Jesus offers us a stern warning regarding anger and the desire for retribution. He also offers us a corrective for that anger: to make peace with the one who has wronged us, or who we have wronged. The good news for us is that Jesus understands how limited we are, which is why in the Gospel lesson today we don’t hear him say that we will never fight with our neighbors or have disputes; but, he offers the way out. One of the great tragedies of being angry at our brothers and sisters is that there is a lot that we should be angry about in the world: we need to channel that righteous anger where it belongs, not project it onto our friends and loved ones.
Jesus’ warning that “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” is very important here. The Pharisees and scribes are typically referred to by Jesus as being poor stewards of the kingdom of heaven, failing in their understanding of how they were meant to minister to the people of God. They had, in short, a limited and almost legalistic understanding of the sacred laws of God, in which the sacred covenant with God was more transactional than transformative. The words this morning from the prophet Ezekiel, seen in this light, are profoundly instructive for us today. The book of Ezekiel is deeply concerned with the people of Israel failing to live up to their covenantal relationship with God. As the chosen people of God, Ezekiel warned, like all the prophets before and after him, that the people would continue to suffer if they didn’t amend their ways and become true emissaries of the living God. Read More
God’s Bathroom Mirrors – Br. Keith Nelson
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Before I came to the monastery I worked for a number of years as a Parish Administrator at a large Episcopal Church in downtown Boston, situated on a bustling street filled with high-end fashion boutiques and office buildings. The church kept its doors open throughout the work day and served as a hub for all sorts of programming, from Twelve Step meetings to homeless ministries, lunches for the elderly and concert series. On any given day I could be found coordinating a harpsichord delivery, scheduling a repair for our broken elevator, or trying to assist a young woman who periodically slept on our front steps – often simultaneously.
Dennis was our custodian. He greeted me daily when I arrived at 7 am with a huge smile and would yell one of his nicknames for me: “Special K!” or “K Dog!” or often just “Brother!” Short, thin, and feisty, Dennis had lived a very hard life but had an indefatigable spirit of joy and a deep, inspiring love for Jesus. He sang hymns at the top of his lungs over the sound of his vacuum cleaner, and accurately understood his work as a ministry. Dennis lived his emotional life extremely close to the surface and was frequently overwhelmed by it. He often needed to visit my office on the third floor to vent his feelings. Read More