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June 14: Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Reading I Kings 18:41-46
Gospel Matthew 5:20-26

“But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment….”

In yesterday’s Gospel passage, Our Lord stated that He had come not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. Beginning today, in the Gospel at weekday Mass we hear examples of Jesus fulfilling the Law.

Jesus uses a phrase today that He repeats several times throughout the fifth chapter of Matthew. The phrase “You have heard that it was said…” signals that Jesus wants to present a contrast to us. First, Jesus presents a basic teaching that comes from the Jewish Law: for example, in today’s Gospel passage, “You have heard that it was said… ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’”

Then, Jesus explains how such a teaching of the Law is to be fulfilled. He declares today: “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment….” The rest of today’s Gospel passage is Jesus’ unpacking of His new teaching, which again, is the fulfillment of an ancient teaching from the Law.

Today, then, we strive to reflect on Jesus’ specific example of anger. What is the means by which Jesus teaches His disciples to enter into the fulfillment of this teaching? The means is reconciliation. Jesus, in the examples He cites, gives two commands: “go first and be reconciled with your brother”, and “Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.” Meditate, then, on reconciliation with your neighbor as a form of love of neighbor, and thus as a means to the love of God.