Thursday 15 June 2023 Week 10 in Ordinary Time
2 Corinthians 3:15-4:1,3-6
Even today, whenever Moses is read, the veil is over their minds. It will not be removed until they turn to the Lord. Now this Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit.
Since we have by an act of mercy been entrusted with this work of administration, there is no weakening on our part. If our gospel does not penetrate the veil, then the veil is on those who are not on the way to salvation; the unbelievers whose minds the god of this world has blinded, to stop them seeing the light shed by the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For it is not ourselves that we are preaching, but Christ Jesus as the Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. It is the same God that said, ‘Let there be light shining out of darkness’, who has shone in our minds to radiate the light of the knowledge of God’s glory, the glory on the face of Christ.
Psalm 84 The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must 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 his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he 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. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.’
Is the Evangelist against the emotion of anger? Probably not in itself.
Anger is an important emotion in human experience that enables us to act when we believe things are contrary to justice, or when we feel under threat, or when we perceive our self-esteem is being negated, when our principles and values are being disregarded. The emotion of anger gives us the energy to counteract what is against us. Without the emotion of anger, a parent could not protect her child. Anger is the emotion of Safeguarding children in the church. Anger is the emotion of passion and love, it makes us fearless for mission and helps us face our difficulties.
A significant question regarding anger is heard often in religious communities today. We identify an issue as a “problem with anger”, but the issue is more likely to be, is that the emotion is being expressed in a healthy and adult way. Or is it being used in unhealthy ways such as passive aggression, rage, aggressivity, submissiveness, passivity.
All these things point to some woundedness, some opportunity lost in our lives to learn how to use the power of anger in a way that builds the reign of God. Let us remember that Jesus himself got angry. We recall the scene in the temple where he accuses those present of turning the sanctuary of God into a marketplace. There are other examples in the Old Testament of the wrath of God raging out against his people.
I think to understand this gospel well, we need to see it in context. Matthew has gathered from several sources a collection of sayings that are attributed to Jesus. This is not a chronology, and it is highly unlikely that the sayings that are listed together in today’s text, were given by Jesus in one speech. So, when we read them, they have a sense of disconnection between them. If we read them in context in the Gospel, we are reminded that Matthew’s message to his readers is that authentic disciples of Jesus value the need for forgiveness and reconciliation, and that communion among the followers of Jesus is paramount.
Let us always seek the ways of unity. Valuing the ways of diversity. And suspending our judgments of one another. Let us learn the ways of peace and reconciliation, that we may be builders of communion among us.