View all Gospel Reflections |
Healing the Wounds of the Heart
Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. 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. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
Opening Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, fill me with your faith, hope, and love. Open my mind to hear your word proclaimed. Inscribe it deeply on my heart so it is always with me.
- Live by Love: The Kingdom of Heaven will be a place of perfect justice and supreme peace. There will be no room for anger, hatred, or unforgiveness. This is why our righteousness, or in other words our virtue, must be greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees. They were interested in the letter of the Levitical law. But Christ’s “way” (John 14:6) is a new law of love (Romans 13:10). This law is inscribed in our hearts and accessed by our consciences (Romans 2:15). This new law goes beyond the letter of the law because love requires something more than just following the rules. It requires conversion of heart. Jeremiah foretold of how the law of the new covenant would change the hearts of people: “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:33-34). May we seek to carry the law of Christ in our hearts and live by love, not just the letter of the law.
- Anger and Woundedness: Jesus was talking about real human circumstances in this Gospel passage: anger and unforgiveness. Anger is one of the seven deadly sins. We often become angry when we feel powerless to change an injustice (or perceived injustice). We seek to control a situation or a person’s response and cannot, causing us to lash out. Sometimes we try to quash our lashing out, but we only explode later. Repression is not the answer to reducing anger. Instead, we are wise to look interiorly for any root cause of our anger. Some childhood trauma or other deeply personal wounds can result in chronic anger. It can help to speak to a trusted priest or a counselor about what’s causing our anger. Proactively, we can strive to grow in the cardinal virtue of temperance, specifically meekness and self-control. And we can trust that Jesus will bless all of our efforts.
- Forgiveness Is Key: Seeking to forgive and reconcile, as Jesus suggests, is key to healing from old wounds. When we choose to forgive others from our hearts (Matthew 18:35), we can find true peace. In fact, through actively forgiving, we lay claim to peace. We take back what was lost, and we are restored. Anger often dissolves or melts when we choose to forgive. It is important to note that reconciliation and forgiveness are related, yet different actions. Forgiveness can be a one-way street; it takes only one person to forgive another. Reconciliation takes two people who are willing to forgive and work past hurts to rebuild a relationship. It is helpful to remember that we can never control what others think or do; we can control only ourselves. When reconciliation seems impossible, we must remember that nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37).
Conversing with Christ: My Jesus, I praise and thank you because you know me and love me, no matter what. When I am stuck in an unhealthy pattern of thought or behavior, whatever it may be, I believe that you are there to help me. I am sorry for the times when I have expressed my anger in a sinful way. Please heal any wounds that cause patterns of sinfulness in me. Bless me with your grace and help me to know you and serve you obediently.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will prayerfully consider whom you are calling me to forgive and make a choice of the will to forgive that person from my heart. If I feel that I cannot forgive fully in this moment, I will ask God the Father to forgive him or her for me: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
For Further Reflection: Read Be Healed: A Guide to Encountering the Powerful Love of Jesus in Your Life by Bob Schuchts.
Carey Boyzuck is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.