Daily Reflection
June 15th, 2000
Shirley Scritchfield
Institutional Research & Assessment
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1 Kings 18:41-46
Psalms 65:10-13
Matthew 5:20-26

“You have heard it said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that if you angry with 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.”  Matthew 5:20-22

You know, some days I marvel at the way Jesus has this exasperating habit of taking me to task for doing what comes “naturally.”   Always, he calls me to quit acting like the “rest of the world”…and to act instead like a member of the household of God.

I don’t know how often I have “heard” the words of today’s gospel.  After all, our passage today is part of the famous sermon on the mount, the focus of countless bible studies and homilies.  And, yet, today, it was if I was hearing, truly hearing it for the first time.  I feel the words as though they were a spiritual mirror—an incredibly detailed and reflective mirror laying out instructions concerning my relationship with God and with others.  And, when I look in that mirror, what do I see? 

Look at the words…Jesus is equating being angry with another, even name-calling, to murder.  Whoa!  Wait a minute!  That cannot be!  Yes, anger is uncomfortable.  Yes, anger is not something we typically enjoy feeling or witnessing…but equivalent to murder?  Jesus, you can’t be serious!  You, yourself got angry.  What about that time in synagogue on the Sabbath?  Or the day you became incensed at the callous commercialism of those in the temple?  Were you not angry?  Was not your anger justified?  Righteous?  How did your anger differ from that which you ask me to release?

Could it be that your anger was directed not at those who hurt you, who did anything to you—but rather was directed at the attitude that made human compassion “illegal” on the Sabbath, at the injustice and greed which thwarted human connection and caring.  Your anger was directed toward drawing people together, not pushing them apart—not building walls between them.  Not even at the point of crucifixion did anger or disdain capture your spirit.

Mine?  Well…When I get angry, it is because I believe another has done me—or  someone I care about—wrong.  How could they?  How dare they?  What a jerk!!  

Whoa…I see it, Jesus…I see the difference.  The anger I feel is too often directed at people—it serves to divide, to set apart, to separate, to alienate.  Yet, God is about love and relationship—and divisions, alienation, separateness are not of God. 

Quite a mirror you present, Lord.  Now, I pray you give me your grace to act in accordance with what I see.  Take my hand…keep me close…that I may let go of the anger…and truly work to build the household of God.  May it be so.

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