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3-Point Mass prep: What should our justice be like?

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Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik - published on 02/11/23

If we take care of our heart and thoughts, then our actions will also be righteous.

The Gospel for this Sunday is Matthew 5:17-37

1 A word of introduction

Righteousness is an attribute of God. A righteous person in the Bible is one who acts following God’s will. 

2 Keywords

Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The scribes were experts in the Law written down and passed down orally. The religious group of Pharisees was very scrupulous in following the precepts of the Torah and the traditions of the elders, which contained many detailed prescriptions. They were considered the elite and experts on God’s Law. However, Jesus says that the righteousness of His disciples is to be greater.

This means that we are not to boast about our religious deeds. It’s not about scrupulousness in fulfillment of regulations, but about a pure and righteous heart.  

That is why, explaining God’s commandments, Jesus emphasizes that one must take care of one’s heart and thoughts. Then our actions will also be righteous. 

“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.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you,everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.

In Jesus’ time, the serious problem was the excessive use of oaths. Oaths were sworn on God’s Name or objects associated with the Temple, etc. So, breaking an oath was also an insult to God’s Name. Jesus says that our speech, is to be “yes, yes; no, no.” It is about sincerity of heart and intentions. If we are truthful, there is no need to use oaths. 

3 Today

St. Paul, a Pharisee himself, tells us how to achieve “greater righteousness.” In his Letter to the Philippians, he writes: “that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith.” 

How do I take care of the purity and righteousness of my heart? Am I being truthful? 

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