Faith Daily | 26 February 2021
PRAYER of the WEEK Lent One
O Lord, who for our sake fasted forty days and forty nights:
give us grace to use such abstinence,
that, our flesh being subdued to the spirit,
we may ever obey your godly will
in righteousness and true holiness;
to your honour and glory,
who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.
Amen APBA p482
GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 5: 20-26
20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 ‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” 22But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by Peter Galbraith
At the commencement of this passage Jesus brings his listeners up with a start. They had better not rely on the message of those who they were accustomed to think of as purveyors of righteousness.
Then he proceeds to the startling suggestion that anger can be as bad as murder. Yet, not so startling, for we have been reminded starkly in the past week that anger that led first to domestic violence is the same anger that ultimately led to murder. Jesus, as with so much of the Sermon on the Mount, emphasises the importance of nipping the potential for evil in the bud.
Then Jesus focuses on figures of speech, specifically aspersions cast on others. ‘Raca’ was a word used to insinuate someone’s inferiority – a name signifying utter contempt. He warned that the use of such a word to describe someone was deserving of the severest punishment of the law and had no place among the vocabulary of his followers.
As for calling someone a “fool” we recall Psalm 14 v1. The fool says in his heart, "There is no God. They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good…”.
In that context it was tantamount to labelling a fellow brother or sister an unbeliever or worse. Jesus again pointed out that there was no place for this among his followers.
Then knowing the propensity for human failure, and sensing that probably some present harboured such thoughts, He emphasised the importance of making peace with one another. It is a timeless message for the ages.
Finally, Jesus switches the focus away from relations internal to His “family”, to point out that pursuing the way of peace with principles stands also to be of benefit in secular undertakings.
FINAL PRAYER: Celtic Blessing
Deep peace of the running wave to you;
deep peace of the flowing air to you;
deep peace of the quiet earth to you;
deep peace of the shining stars to you;
deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.