‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But 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. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come 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. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
As a native Midwesterner, I know summer means orange traffic barrels and signs for road construction. And the same scenario plays out every summer: traffic slows to a crawl for a lane closure marked well in advance. Then, without fail, a car zooms past the line of stopped traffic to cut in at the very end. I feel my blood boil as I begin to plot ways to stop this driver and his deviant behavior.
Yet despite the injustice of this moment, I know in my heart that my rage did not change my travel time nor did my rage offer any help to the other drivers on the road. Anger and rage are the natural responses to many of the situations we face in the world – the call of Jesus is to work with these feelings and seek the way of reconciliation.
God, thank you for offering us abundant and eternal life. Teach us how to be merciful so that we may choose abundant life and live for your glory and the good of our neighbor.