Jesus asks Christians to "exceed" in human virtue and not settle for what is merely sufficient
Today’s readings are here.
It would be easy enough for a Christian to be a good Christian if the only requirement were to do no harm, to be a good person in reasonable terms: honest, trustworthy, sincere, kind… But Jesus asks Christians to “exceed” in human virtue and not settle for what is merely sufficient:
“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.”
It may seem like Jesus is exaggerating, but if we think about it properly, it’s not an exaggeration but the “proper difference” from the logic of the world. That’s why we should look at ourselves with much humility and ask ourselves how we try to live our lives “differently” from the rest of the world. If we find no difference, then something is wrong.
Jesus offers a litmus test, a kind of verification of our inner state: the ability to be willing to forgive:
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.
The other person may not necessarily welcome our attempt at reconciliation, but it would be absurd for Christians not to make it a priority among their desires in life.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese of Italy and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.
Aleteia is proud to offer this commentary on the readings for daily Mass, in collaboration with Fr. Epicoco.